Atiba Hutchinson, an Istanbul veteran in the service of the Canadian “Reds”

AA / Montreal / Hatem Kattou

The defensive midfielder of the Istanbul side Besiktas, Atiba Hutchinson, will be the oldest player in the Canadian football team, returning to the World Cup after 36 years of absence, but also of all the nations participating in the competition.
From the height of his 39 years, the player who has played 93 games so far with the “Reds” (nickname of the Canadian football team) will be one of the attractions of this World Cup, given his longevity on the green squares.
If Atiba Hutchinson is one of the 26 selected by the English head coach of Canada, John Herdman, to compete in the World Cup in Qatar, it is not to complete a list or to be the fifth wheel of the carriage or even to to reward him with a participation in the Mondial in view of his career or to supervise the youngsters of the selection; far from there.
Atiba Hutchinson is THE centerpiece of the Canadian midfield, playing a pivotal role in an essential compartment to connect the three lines, especially since he played a leading role in his country’s qualification for the World Cup, the end of an almost faultless run, with the added bonus of first place in the CONCACAF zone with 26 points.
The one who left Canada about two decades ago to emigrate to Europe, the Old Continent where the level of football championships is higher than in the country of maple or in the North American Soccer League , has evolved in four different countries since.
Indeed, during the first ten years, from 2003 to 2013, the Canadian veteran was a member of two Swedish clubs, Osters IF and Helsingborgs, of the best Danish team, FC Copenhagen, with whom he was chosen during of the 2010 season as the club’s best player.
Subsequently, he was transferred to the Dutch top club, PSV Eindhoven., for three seasons during which he played alongside a host of excellent players, including the two Dutch Georginio Wijlandum and Memphis Depay and Belgian Dries Mertens.
After that, and at the age of 31, the player decided to go even further south to settle in Türkiye and take up residence, more precisely, in the Istanbul metropolis where he has since played in the one of the three big clubs of this city, namely the Besiktas.
With Besiktas, the 1.87 m midfielder won the Super Lig trophy three times, including two in a row, in 2016, 2017 and 2021.
The 39-year-old played 326 games for Besiktas and scored 26 goals, an excellent performance for a defensive midfielder who has the thankless role of intercepting balls, raking wide and giving thrusts to inhibit the development of the opposing game.
In terms of the national selection, the captain of the “Reds” honored his first selection during a friendly match, and as a holder, against the American neighbor to the south, a certain…January 18, 2003, i.e. when he was only 19 years, 11 months and 20 days old.
Anecdotally after two decades, Canada had lost by four final goals during this first of Atiba.
His journey has continued since with the Unifolé, and it took him eighteen years of loyal service at the top international level to break the record for the most matches played in the selection, which was held by Julian de Guzman, who was until November 16, 2021, the most capped player of the “Reds” with 89 selections.
Atiba Hutchinson, who has been awarded the honorary title of best Canadian player of the year six times (2010- 2012- 2014 – 2015- 2016 and 2017), will be a valuable contribution, both for his coach in the application of the tactical plan which will be put in place, in the relaunch of the ball, thanks to its “wisdom” and its visibility of the game as well as to distill on a plate the leather to the players of the line of offensive.
In addition, and in addition to his role on the lawn, Atiba will play a key role in the locker room to supervise the young and not so young of the selection, but also to inspire confidence, thanks to his long experience of twenty years in the ranks of senior professionals.
Indeed, the Canadian selection, which will have a hard time facing the Croats, finalists in Russia in 2018, the Belgians who reached the four of aces during the same edition and the Moroccans, who are in their sixth participation in a Football World Cup needs a benchmark player, a landmark on and off the field, and this mission can only be fulfilled by a wise veteran, and moreover always competitive to set an example.
At 39 and with 93 selections, Hutchinson could play his hundredth game during this World Cup if Canada qualified for the final, a very unlikely fact for the 42nd world selection in the FIFA rankings and which does not really have proven footballing traditions, but that’s all the harm we would wish for the now Stambouliote at heart.


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