With his 90th appearance for Canada against Mexico Tuesday night, Atiba Hutchinson has officially surpassed the previous mark of 89 set by Julian De Guzman. De Guzman had this to say last week on Atiba soon breaking the CanMNT appearance record:
“We go back a long way…He’s like a brother to me. I think he’s a great example of what a career should look like… So for him to be the guy to break this record, I mean you couldn’t ask for a better person to do it.”
From one legend to another— Canada Soccer (@CanadaSoccerEN) November 17, 2021
Julian De Guzman pays tribute to his brother, friend and teammate @AtibaHutchinson who will shortly become #CANMNT's all-time leader in international 'A' appearances. #WCQ #ForCanada pic.twitter.com/lHumSgpa0a
Hutchinson, 38, has long been a staple in the CanMNT set up and continues to be a stabilizing force for the team these past 18 years. Atiba started in 88 of his 90 appearances for Canada, scored eight times, and has been named Canada’s top male soccer player of the year six times. To put this accomplishment into context, Atiba made his senior CanMNT debut in 2003 when Alphonso Davies, Jonathan David and Tajon Buchanan were all three years old or younger!
Despite being a mainstay with the CanMNT over almost two decades, Atiba has arguably still not received the same recognition or widespread attention that more electric talents like Davies and David have received. Befittingly, Atiba is also not the most vocal leader despite wearing the captain’s armband. Herdman previously had this to say on Atiba:
“He is reflective, quiet, unassuming, but he’s dialled into everything. He’s dialled into the spirit of the group, he’s dialled into the psyche of the players. You can just sense he has a great feel for people and the environment.”
Proving true to Herdman’s assessment, when asked about breaking De Guzman’s appearance record, Atiba was not as thrilled to discuss his own achievements and said:
“It’s not something I was keeping in the back of my mind and really pushing for. Obviously now I’m very close to it so there’s been a little bit more thought put into it.”
CanMNT’s ascendancy to becoming a force in CONCACAF and in popularity across the country would not be possible without Atiba’s leadership and devotion to the national team during his career. He helped to lay a foundation for Herdman to build on and inspired a future generation of footballers to represent Canada and to wear the shirt proudly. We should all celebrate Atiba’s incredible accomplishment of 90 international caps for Canada and find joy in the fact that there will be many more CanMNT records to be broken in the coming years as we usher in a golden generation of CanMNT football.