Player Profile: Atiba Hutchinson, the CanMNT’s Reliable Captain

CanMNT Midfielder Atiba Hutchinson at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium

PREVIEW – Atiba Hutchinson, the player who made the all-time most appearances for his country, will be in the FIFA World Cup. His experience is being relied on heavily as the CanMNT made their first-ever FIFA World Cup appearance in 36 years.

Atiba Hutchinson: The Reliable Captain for the CanMNT

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Hutchinson was born in Brampton, Ontario to Trinidadian parents. At age four, he played for the Brampton Youth SC. He would later play for the North Scarborough SC and the Woodbridge Strikers according to Canada Soccer. This is what Toyaa Hutchinson, his sister, said about the game according to Canada Soccer’s YouTube Account:

“He was very passionate, he’s very disciplined and very driven, he didn’t use to go out a lot when he was older, he actually missed prom and he missed graduation because he was, he wasn’t he was away so it that let me know that he was very serious because he just wanted to do whatever it took to achieve this goal.”

Hutchinson was committed to accomplishing his goal and making his dream come true. Also, how Hutchinson approached the game in his youth tells everyone that he was sacrificing a lot to become a professional soccer player.

His father, Dalton Hutchinson, helped Hutchinson improve his soccer skills in his early childhood years. According to Dan Robson and Joshua Kloke of The Athletic, Hutchinson’s childhood hero growing up was Dwight Yorke. Yorke was a professional Trinidadian player from 1989-2009. He won big championships with both Aston Villa and Manchester United in the 1990s. He also took Trinidad and Tobago to the 2006 FIFA World Cup, much like how Hutchinson is leading his CanMNT side now.

Atiba Hutchinson’s Professional Club Career

Hutchinson’s professional club career officially started in a March 2001 trial at FC Schalke 04 according to hentscholin. He briefly played with the York Region Shooters of the Canadian Professional Football League and then the Toronto Lynx of the then-A-League. For people who do not know. The Lynx was a second-tier pro soccer team in Toronto. They were also Toronto’s main soccer team before Toronto FC was born in 2006 and played their first MLS season in 2007. The Lynx sadly folded in 2016.

Hutchinson then went to play in Europe, where he has remained for the rest of his club career so far starting with Östers IF of Sweden. He now plays with Beşiktaş J.K., where he made his mark the most of any European club team. Hutchinson also made his mark with Copenhagen and PSV. In fact, with Copenhagen, he won four Danish Superliga championships and was part of FC Copenhagen All Time Best XI -100th Anniversary Fan Vote.

The veteran midfielder scored 61 goals in his career in the league, with 23 of those goals with Beşiktaş J.K. and 22 of them with FC Copenhagen. He also additionally scored five goals in continental competitions and one in the national cup. This is what Ali Yönetci, a Football Reporter in Istanbul said about Hutchinson according to Canada Soccer:

“He’s the most powerful man in the Beşiktaş team and he has so many strengths Beşiktaş players love Hutchinson so much is one of the captains for Beşiktaş and the most important thing is Atiba plays every much better every much better and every time he wants more so Beşiktaş fans and Turkish football fans love it.”

It is clear that Hutchinson made his mark within club soccer, but he has done more than that with the CanMNT.

The Legacy of the CanMNT

Hutchinson made his debut with the team in January 2003 against the United States. Since then, he has made 98 more caps, including the FIFA World Cup game loss against Belgium. He scored nine goals for his national team, including an early goal against El Salvador at home, and getting the important clinching goal against El Salvador on the road.

The game against Croatia at 11:00 AM ET will be Hutchinson’s 100th appearance for the national team. He will be the only player in the men’s program to ever reach 100 caps. CF Montreal midfielder, Alistair Johnston, talks about what Hutchinson means for the team.

Atiba Hutchinson has achieved a lot for the CanMNT. He won the Canada Soccer Player of the Year Award six times, with his last one coming in 2017. He was also part of the Concacaf Best XI in 2016. It was not all rosy for Hutchinson though, this is what he said according to Chris Smith of 90min:

“I didn’t think I was going to continue [playing for Canada], and somehow I’m still here,” Hutchinson said prior to the tournament.

The truth is until very recently, going to the FIFA World Cup seemed like an afterthought. However, CanMNT head coach, John Herdman, was able to change that according to Robson and Kloke’s article in The Athletic:

“When players have experienced those things, there’s a real inner drive, there’s a hunger and a desire to get those moments back. And I thought he needed that opportunity,” Herdman says.

According to Robson and Kloke’s article, Herdman compared Hutchinson’s reaction when losing 8-1 to Honduras to Christine Sinclair’s tears in the 2011 Women’s World Cup. Also, Herdman listened to Hutchinson, and this is what Huthinson said:

“He would listen, man,” says Hutchinson.

Hutchinson, who was ready to retire from his national team had a positive first impression of Herdman. He was happy that Herdman listened to his struggles. After that, the rest was history as the CanMNT is in their first-ever FIFA World Cup in 36 years.

Atiba Hutchinson: A Relied Captain with the CanMNT

READ MORE: Player Profile: Stalwart CanMNT Midfield Maestro Junior Hoilett

Atiba Hutchinson will be making his 100 caps on Sunday against Croatia at 11:00 AM ET. The game will take place at the Khalifa International Stadium in Al Rayyan, Qatar. That game will be televised nationally on TSN and CTV. It will also be televised live in Quebec on RDS at the Khalifa International Stadium.

Despite the loss, the CanMNT was able to pressure Belgium’s defence in their first-ever FIFA World Cup game since 1986 with their speed, crosses, through balls, and positive play.