A palpable sense of celebration electrified BC Place stadium on Tuesday night, as throngs of fans clad in Christine Sinclair jerseys converged to mark the spectacular finale of the Burnaby native’s illustrious career with the Canadian soccer team.

Amidst the sea of supporters, echoes of inspiration resounded in the words of Malala Rabesoa, a lifelong devotee of Sinclair’s prowess and an active player with Burnaby FC. “She grew up in Burnaby and she also played with the local club with Burnaby, so it’s really inspiring to have her as a role model,” Rabesoa remarked, her eyes reflecting the admiration shared by many in the stadium.

The night was not just a local affair – it summoned Sinclair superfans from across the country. Jasmine Bureau, for instance, embarked on a journey driven by admiration and nostalgia, traveling for hours from Sudbury to Toronto and then flying to Vancouver. “Christine Sinclair actually started on the national team when I started playing soccer when I was 3, so she’s kind of been my idol since I first laced up my cleats,” Bureau shared, the significance of the moment palpable in her voice. “To be here today is like bidding a heartfelt adieu to my childhood hero.”

Prior to kickoff, a tribute unfolded as Sinclair’s teammates warmed up donning jerseys bearing the legendary player’s number 12, a silent yet stirring honor. Sinclair, exemplifying her characteristic humility, sported the number 13 in tribute to Sophie Schmidt, her comrade-in-arms, who too was cloaked in her own farewell match’s poignancy.

With a record-shattering 331 caps and 190 goals scored internationally, Sinclair’s tenure on the national team spanned an awe-inspiring two decades. Her storied career is a testament to resilience and excellence, decorated with two Olympic bronze medals and the crowning achievement of gold at the Tokyo 2020 games.

In the aftermath of the match, Sinclair’s conversation with TSN conveyed the emotion of the occasion. “I mean, this was absolutely nuts,” expressed the soccer icon, a sentiment shared by the 40-year-old as she basked in the perfect denouement to her playing days.

Sinclair’s legacy, forged on the field, transcends her athletic achievements. “Our goal was to inspire a generation, and looking around this stadium and seeing all the young girls and young boys, it’s like, mission accomplished,” she reflected, her words a beacon for the future of Canadian soccer.

The night culminated with an extraordinary gesture, as BC Place temporarily adopted a new moniker, “Christine Sinclair Place,” honoring the homegrown hero. The friendly against Australia, witnessed by more than 48,000 supporters, ended in a triumphant 1-0 victory for Canada, a fitting closure to a chapter written by one of soccer’s greatest.

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