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Atiba Hutchinson ponders potential CPL role as playing career winds down

TORONTO – There is no hint of resignation in Atiba Hutchinson’s voice as he prepares for yet another test at the international level.

There was no chance it would be there, really.

News of his intention to retire from the Canadian men’s national team at the conclusion of the 2019 Gold Cup may have been tough to hear for the young players who count the Besiktas midfielder as a role model, but for Hutchinson, the future presents many doors and many more opportunities to ponder.

As Hutchinson and the rest of John Herdman’s squad endured the winds at BMO Field in Toronto during a training session ahead of a CONCACAF Nations League Qualifying tilt against Dominica (Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 7:00 p.m. ET/10:00 p.m. PT, TSN2/RDS2), the 35-year-old weighed in on his latest decision, taking time to reflect on the biggest question mark surrounding him: What will Canada’s top talent do once he calls it time on his playing career?

And, he gave mind to the other question, too – a question that some of his compatriots have also pondered, and, in some cases, answered actionably: Could Hutchinson see himself with the Canadian Premier League in the near future?

“Possibly down the road,” the veteran Canadian international coyly told CanPL.ca, when asked exactly that.

“I think there’s always an opportunity and I’ve always thought of doing something for Canada, as the time comes that I’m finished playing football, so there’s a possibility for sure. I’m not sure when that will be, so we’ll see what happens.”

More questions, then: Does Hutchinson aspire to lead a team as head coach, like Jimmy Brennan at York 9 FC? Or, perhaps, take on the challenge as an owner or executive like Josh Simpson and Rob Friend at Pacific FC?

To that end, Hutchinson wasn’t quite certain himself, offering that he’s “kind of in-between” about his exact plans for the future, though he added he wants to be “involved in football, for sure.”

However, Hutchinson was clear about his intentions to remain with his current club in Turkey until he’s ready to hang up his boots completely, offering that he isn’t looking to make one final stop to North America.

“I’m happy there with Besiktas, and they’ve given a lot to me, so the way I think of it is that it would be a good place to retire,” Hutchinson said. “I’ve enjoyed my football there. I’ve been there for six seasons now, so that’s the thoughts in my head.”

For now – as ever – Hutchinson’s focus is on the game at hand, and the step forward a victory would achieve: Canada hosts Dominica at BMO Field as Herdman’s side looks to secure a berth in the 2019 Gold Cup.

It is, as Hutchinson explained, a platform befitting of his international farewell, doubly so as Canada enters a new era in its own footballing history.

“I’ve just been thinking over the last little bit, and I just think that being involved with these young guys now, giving them as much of the experience as I have, and helping out for the next little while, I wanted to do that,” Hutchinson said, when asked about the timeline of the end of his international career. “I think the Gold Cup is a good time, yeah. After that, if we can finish off on a high note, that would be ideal.”

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