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Soccer fans gather in Vancouver to celebrate Sinclair's final game for Canada

Canada's national women's soccer team captain Christine Sinclair walks off the field to the locker room before playing a friendly against Australia in her final international soccer match, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023. Sinclair, 40, is making her 331st and final appearance for Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

VANCOUVER — Christine Sinclair took part in her final Canadian women's national team game on Tuesday, with fans from all over the globe flocking to see her play.

Nicole Safranski is visiting with three others from Portland, Ore., and specifically came to watch Sinclair's final international game at B.C. Place which has been temporarily renamed after the striker.

"I am glowing inside. I am so excited. My dog is named Sinclair, it was just her birthday," she said. "I just can't believe the energy here, I'm so excited, I'm so proud of everything Sinclair has done. I'm honoured to be here."

Safranski supports the Portland Thorns, the team Sinclair plays for in the National Women's Soccer League, and said she's excited to celebrate the forward's career.

"She's just amazing. She's consistent, a leader on the team. I ran into her at one of the pubs that shows her game and she's just a good human."

Micah Hermkins was holding a sign celebrating Sinclair outside the stadium and said she was excited to see the Canadian striker's last international match.

“I’m excited to see Sinclair playing," she said. “I’m glad I got to see her last game while I’m here.”

Noah Darowski, 11, said he was excited to see the Canadian women's team play for his first time.

“Seeing Sinclair and seeing Canada versus Australia," he said about what excited him about the match. "It’s a very rare chance to see the actual team playing.”

Fans in both Canadian and Australian jerseys lined up waiting to get into the stadium and were seen around the stadium concourse during halftime.

People wearing Canadian national hockey and soccer jerseys along with the uniforms of local youth soccer clubs could all be seen during the game, along with one Mountie in the traditional red serge uniform at halftime.

Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim was also spotted at the game, which also serves as a farewell to goalkeeper Erin McLeod and Sophie Schmidt.

Outside the stadium, fans posed for photos with signs marking Sinclair's final game, while nearby Science World Vancouver was lit up as a red and white soccer ball in honour of the Canadian superstar.

Sinclair was subbed off in the 58th minute of the friendly against Australia, receiving a standing ovation and hugging all her teammates, to be replaced by Schmidt.

Fans lit up the stadium using their cellphone flashlights in the 79th minute as tribute to Sinclair as well.

“I think tonight was incredible. This is exactly how we wanted to send off those two legends," said Canadian goalkeeper Cloe Lacasse.

Jade Rose agreed with her netminder.

“(Sinclair and Schmidt) talked to us yesterday about how they’re leaving the program in great hands and I think that there’s so much that we’ve learned from them, from their time here and will continue on with the team," said Rose.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5, 2023.

Nick Wells, The Canadian Press

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