Christine Sinclair bid an emotional farewell to international soccer on Tuesday with one final match that brought an end to a superlative career in which she catapulted Canada from obscurity to Olympic champions.
The result of the friendly, a 1-0 win over Australia played in Sinclair's home province of British Columbia, did not matter as the night was all about celebrating Canada's most successful soccer player of all time.
"Thank you for inspiring all of us," Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wrote on social media. "Your impact on the game, and on sports in Canada, is something we'll be celebrating for quite some time."
The world's all-time leading scorer in internationals has often shied away from the spotlight and holds team accomplishments above her many personal achievements.
But on this tribute-filled night in Vancouver the 40-year-old striker could not avoid taking centre stage.
A dozen members of Canada's bronze medal team from the 2012 Olympics, where Sinclair won the Golden Boot, formed an honour guard to welcome her onto the pitch before the scoreboard played a tribute video that left her wiping away tears.
"We are all going to miss you wearing the red and white but as Canadians we thank you for what you've done. You are truly a national treasure," twice Olympic gold medallist speedskater Catriona Le May Doan said during the pre-game festivities.
Unlike in recent games where she came off the bench, Sinclair got the start in front of the roughly 48,000 spectators inside a stadium which was renamed in her honour for the night.
Sinclair, who announced her retirement in October, had a hand in the only goal of the game, flicking Jessie Fleming's corner to Kadeisha Buchanan whose shot hit the bar before Quinn buried the rebound in the 40th minute.
Shortly after the break Fleming got a ball in behind for Sinclair but Australian goalkeeper Teagan Micah came off her line to smother it.
Sinclair was substituted in the 58th minute and shared hugs with her teammates on the field before walking off to a standing ovation while saluting the adoring crowd by waving and clapping her hands above her head.
It marked the end of one of the most storied careers of any Canadian athlete.
"Honestly, just joy," Sinclair said when asked what will come to mind when she looks back on this night. "I've done everything I can on this national team. I am 100% satisfied and content, and to go out with a win in front of my friends, in front of my family, honestly it's been the perfect night."
Sinclair was 16 when she made her senior international debut. Her international career includes a record 190 goals in 331 games for Canada, an Olympic gold medal in 2021 and six World Cup appearances.
She broke USWNT forward Abby Wambach's all-time international scoring record of 184 goals in a 2020 Olympic qualifying game against Saint Kitts and Nevis. Canada went on to capture their first Olympic title in Tokyo.
She received the Best FIFA Special Award for Outstanding Career Achievement in 2021, has two Olympic bronze medals from 2012 and 2016, and is also a 14-time Canadian women's player of the year.
The typically reserved Sinclair grew into a vocal leader in the Canada team's recent fight for equal pay and treatment.
Despite retiring from the international stage, Sinclair still plans to play for Portland Thorns in the National Women's Soccer League next season.
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