When the referee blew the final whistle on the careers of three Canadian women’s soccer icons, the message from Melissa Tancredi, Rhian Wilkinson and Marie-Eve Nault was clear — the torch is yours to carry from this point forward.
Canada picked a 3-2 victory over Mexico with two goal from Janine Beckie and another from Deanne Rose in an international friendly on Saturday that celebrated the national team’s back-to-back Olympic bronze medals and also marked the end of the road for a trio that played 377 times for their country.
“They mean everything, they give everything,” Canadian head coach John Herdman said of Tancredi, Wilkinson and Nault. “Their whole adult life has been spent with this team. They don’t know anything different … and you only have to go into our locker-room to start to realize what they mean to each other.
“Each one of them has got something in their identity that Canadians can relate to, whether it’s the grit of Tancredi, the altruisticness [sic] of Marie-Eve or just that ‘true north’ of Rhian.”
All three players were joined by family members on the pitch for a ceremony following the game, with Tancredi’s grandparents surprising her after flying in from Ontario.
“So many emotions, but the first thing is proud that I’ve been able to call these three individuals teammates and friends,” said Canadian captain Christine Sinclair. “We’ve literally taken on the world together and shared heartbreaks and had our dreams come true in Olympic Games.
“It’s been quite the ride.”
The 35-year-old Tancredi, a powerful striker who scored 27 goals in 125 appearances, started on the bench before coming on as substitute in the 76th minute with Canada clinging to a 3-2 lead.
Stay tuned on TSN2 and RDS2 for a retirement celebration of three