The Players: Christine Sinclair

If Christine Sinclair is ever going to accept her coach’s suggestion that she could be the best player in the world, then she is going to have to do something first.

If Christine Sinclair is ever going to accept her coach’s suggestion that she could be the best player in the world, then she is going to have to do something first.

Lead her team to victory.

Ask Sinclair if she considers herself the best in the world and she will have nothing of it. Instead, she redirects the credit to the stars of FIFA Women’s World Cup title holders Germany or Marta from 2007 silver medalist Brazil.

“I believe you can’t really be called the best in a team sport until your team wins,” said Sinclair.

Of course, Sinclair won’t tell you she’s somewhat of a champion already. She has proven herself at the youth, college, professional and international levels. She won a silver medal at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup (2002), won two NCAA college cups with the University of Portland, won a Women’s Professional Soccer championship with FC Gold Pride (2010), and a CONCACAF women’s championship with Canada (2010).

“It was a very successful year with national team and (my) club,” conceded Sinclair of her most recent success in 2010. “I was on two extremely talented teams.”

For her, success this year must be achieved in one tournament and one tournament alone: the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

“I would like to win the FIFA Women’s World Cup,” said Sinclair of her career aspirations.

Canada opens the FIFA Women’s World Cup this 26 June in Berlin against the host and two-time defending champion Germany. Canada’s other opponents in the group stage are France on 30 June (in Bochum) and Nigeria on 5 July (in Dresden).

If Canada is going to advance beyond the group phase and even knock off a few more opponents in the knock-out phase, then it will need captain Sinclair to be at her best.

“We definitely got drawn into a very, very difficult group,” said Sinclair. “We are going to have to have three of our best games that we’ve had yet.”

Sinclair is in her 12th season with the national team and will be participating in her third FIFA Women’s World Cup. The team finished fourth at USA 2003, but then finished 9th at China 2007 when the team failed to advance beyond the group phase.

Sinclair is already Canada’s all-time goal-scoring leader at the FIFA Women’s World Cup with six goals in nine matches. At China 2007, she scored a go-ahead goal with five minutes left that nearly sent Canada through to the second round, but alas Australia scored in added time to send the Canucks packing.

Canada now wants to redeem its early departure from four years ago. It already has a quarter-final finish from the Beijing 2008 Olympics, but the team’s real improvement has come in the three years since coach Carolina Morace’s arrival. As such, the team wants to show the world its new brand of football.

“She has come in and completely changed our team,” said Sinclair.

In the last 12 months (3 June 2010 to 28 May 2011), Canada has 16 wins, four draws and just three losses. Two of those three losses came against the world’s top-two teams: Germany and reigning Olympic champion USA.

“I’ve never felt better heading into a major tournament than this year,” said Sinclair. “I’ve never felt this well prepared.”

Also in the past year, Sinclair has helped her teams win those championships in WPS and CONCACAF. Could those be good signs that she is ready to lead Canada to an even greater accomplishment on the world stage?

If she does, maybe then she will accept the title of world’s best.

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