TORONTO – One of Canada’s most formidable footballers is ready to call it time on his international career.
Atiba Hutchinson, regarded as one of the finest talents produced in Canada, told Sportsnet he’s looking to retire from the Canadian men’s national team after the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup, bringing to a close a 16-year international career with one final outing in a major tournament.
The 35-year-old Besiktas defensive midfielder, known affectionately by Turkish fans as “the Octopus,” has been a mainstay in Canada’s national team ranks since 2003, and has since racked up 78 appearances for Les Rouges, though he hasn’t figured in manager John Herdman’s squad recently until the latest round of call-ups for a CONCACAF Nations League Qualifying tilt against Dominica (BMO Field, Oct. 16 at 7:00 p.m. ET/10:00 p.m. PT) due to an ankle injury requiring surgery.
Now back in the mix, Hutchinson is ready to embark on what would be his final tournament cycle on the international stage.
“Before this past summer, I was speaking a little with John (Herdman) about what I wanted to do and what he wanted from me. It was good to have that talk and clear things up, and have a clear vision of what I wanted to do,” Hutchinson told Sportsnet.
“In my mind, and from what we spoke about, I want to be involved and play in these (Nations League) games, get used to the group, and be a leader as much as I can right until next year’s (CONCACAF) Gold Cup. Playing in the Gold Cup would be a good time for me, and then probably after that I’ll call it a day with the national team.
“That’s the way I’m looking at and we’re looking at it, to play in one last tournament. Hopefully we can achieve some success with the country at the Gold Cup, something I’ve pretty much missed my entire career.”
The 2019 Gold Cup kicks off next year on June 15 and runs until July 7. National teams in the CONCACAF region must qualify for the Gold Cup through the CONCACAF Nations League, a new tournament introduced by the region’s governing body, in line with similar competitions around the world, in lieu of international friendlies.