It’s fair to say that Canada isn’t known for producing a glut of talent in the world of soccer. Well, a young man named Alphonso Davies might be knocking on the door as the greatest ever in the next few years – if he’s not there already.
Here we look at the soccer players standing between him and the honour of being crowned as the best Canadian soccer player of all time.
Number 5. Atiba Hutchinson
Hutchinson, who has 84 Canada caps to his name, started his career in pro soccer with the York Region Shooters before a move to the Toronto Lynx. After just a handful of appearances he moved to Europe.
It wasn’t an elite club though with the next three years spent in the Swedish leagues, first with Oster and then, after suffering relegation, with the more well-known Helsingborg. The midfielder emerged as one of their top players.
In 2006, Hutchinson moved to Denmark Super Liga side Copenhagen. During his time there he earned rave reviews with numerous links to the Premier League. Those moves never materialised with the Super Liga player of the year having to settle for a period in the Eredivisie with Dutch giants PSV.
After impressing throughout his three years with PSV, Hutchinson joined Besiktas. It wasn’t what he wanted but it’s worked out more than alright with Hutchinson now in his eighth season with the club. Hutchinson is not the flashiest of the player, but he is strong as a horse in TwinSpires Kentucky Derby odds and he has been one of the fan favourites and captain of the Turkish club.
Number 4. Craig Forrest
Forrest’s hands might not have been as lethal as MMA star Georges St. Pierre but they were certainly safe; we’ll brush over the 9-0 nightmare he endured whilst keeping goal for Ipswich Town during their Premier League record defeat at Old Trafford back in 1995 and instead point out he was named the club’s player of the year that season! Forrest is one of very few Canadians to have spent his entire career in Europe with all 18 seasons spent in England.
During that time he represented Ipswich, Chelsea, Colchester United and West Ham. He won the Intertoto Cup with the latter. On the international scene, Forrest won 56 caps and was voted best player as Canada won the Gold Cup in 2000. He’s widely regarded as the best Canadian keeper of all time.
Number 3. Julian de Guzman
It would be wrong to list the best Canadian soccer players of all time and fail to mention the national teams leading appearance maker, wouldn’t it? Well, we haven’t. de Guzman missed out on the 2000 Gold Cup success with his international bow not coming until two years later but his career highlight still came in that competition; he was named MVP in 2007. He went on to win 89 appearances, which isn’t far off being more than he made for any of his clubs!
He was somewhat of a domestic footballing nomad as he represented eight clubs and failed to make a century of league appearances with any of them. de Guzman’s best spell almost certainly came throughout the 2000’s as he represented first Hannover 96 and then Deportivo La Coruna to become the first Canadian to play in La Liga. He starred for the side too. Silverware wasn’t forthcoming but he did help the now tier three side to UEFA Cup qualification and was named their player of the season; that is no mean feat considering they were a well-respected Spanish club at the time.
Number 2. Paul Stalteri
At number two on our list is the man that Davies needs to surpass to become known as the best full back in Canada’s history, Paul Stalteri. Stalteri started out in his homeland plying his trade with the Toronto Lynx but his performances quickly caught the eye. After a solitary season of pro soccer in Canada, Stalteri headed to Europe with Werder Bremen. He was only 21-years-old when moving to Germany but had already tasted success in the form of a Gold Cup triumph, which would prove his only international glory in 84 appearances.
Stalteri went on to establish himself as a key member of the Bremen squad too. They won the 2003/04 Bundesliga and German cup double. Spells with Tottenham and Fulham followed before he played out his final days back in Germany with Borussia Monchengladbach.
Number 1. Owen Hargreaves
It might stick in the craw a bit that topping our list of the best Canadian soccer players of all time is a man that actually made near on 50 appearances for England. Unfortunately, Owen Hargreaves boasts a trophy cabinet most Canadians could only dream of. The central midfielder was born in Calgary though and spent his entire formative years in Canada with eyes on the NHL and NFL. In his mid-teenage years that all changed though. It proved a smart choice for Hargreaves.
By age 18 – and just three years into taking soccer seriously – the curly haired youngster was lining up for Bayern Munich’s second string. 12 months later he was in the senior squad. Fast forward to 2007 with Hargreaves now 27-years-old and he was signing for Manchester United for a reported £17m. He already had four Bundesliga titles, three German Cups and a Champions League medal to his name. His first year in England saw him add two further pieces of silverware to his cabinet; a Premier League and another Champions League where he was integral to the victory in the final. Even for Alphonso Davies that is not a career that is easy to top.
There you have it, the best Canadian soccer player of all time.