‘Taking Canada to another level’: Eustáquio commits to Canada

Stephen Eustáquio has committed to the red and white.

Canada Soccer announced Friday the 22-year-old has chosen to represent Canada at the senior level, having previously represented Portugal’s under-21s seven times.

Born in Leamington, Ont., Eustáquio moved to his parents’ native country of Portugal at a young age, representing several clubs before reaching Primera Liga, Portugal’s top division, with GD Chaves.

The defensive midfielder moved to Mexican giants Cruz Azul in January.

“Players like Atiba Hutchinson, Junior Holliet and Alphonso Davies are taking the country to another level,” Eustáquio said in a video released by Canada Soccer. “And I want to be part of it.”

Eustáquio called the interest from Canada a “great prize” for the work he had done to this point in his career.

“I hope I play for Canada in every international break,” Eustáquio continued. “That’s something I want to do for the rest of my soccer career.”

Canada head coach John Herdman said he had been in contact with Eustáquio for over a year ahead of Friday’s announcement.

“To have a defensive midfielder of his quality, who is now plying his trade at the top club in Mexico is exciting,” Herdman said.

“It sends a massive message out that he could have stayed and been drafted into the Portugal side.”

Canada’s next men’s match is a Concacaf Nations League Qualifying match against French Guiana at Vancouver’s BC Place on March 24.