Atiba Hutchinson: 'I always dreamt of seeing Canada qualify for World Cup'
As the longest-tenured member of the Canadian men's national team, Atiba Hutchinson doesn't need to pour over archival footage or old match reports to drum up context for just how far this team has come.
On quiet nights in retrospect, those lived memories may still sting fresh.
But, for the 39-year-old Besiktas midfielder, who has carried this country on his back since 2003, tonight - this very night - presents an opportunity to make good on his singular soccer dream - playing in the FIFA World Cup.
"I never really thought I would be able to experience what's going on now, with the team," Hutchinson said, in a video posted by Canada Soccer.
"It's an amazing thing to be a part of: To see how it's really turned around; to see the level that we've come to; to see how strong the team is, and how much we're a unit - a brotherhood.
"And, to have the country behind us the way the country is behind us? It's something I always dreamt of seeing, and didn't really know if I would get that chance to feel it, to experience it.
"I'm very appreciative and grateful to still be putting on the jersey, performing, and playing for Canada with the group that we have."
Canada takes on Costa Rica in World Cup Qualifying, with Hutchinson slated to earn his team-leading 93rd appearance as Les Rouges look to secure three points - and a spot in the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
A win is all it takes. One single win, over three matches. The permutations mean that top-of-the-table Canada could very well lose out and still qualify. The result is all but assured. A draw here, dropped points by others there, it doesn't matter. Until that line is crossed, it won't be real. And that line is so, so close now.
"Just to be that close to achieving something that we've all been dreaming of for a very, very long time - myself included? It's hard to put into word exactly how you feel, and what's going through my mind, with all the emotions. I'm just really excited to step onto the pitch in Costa Rica," Hutchinson said.
One more push, Canada. We're almost there.
Catch the Canadian men's national team in World Cup Qualifying action, with full 1-HOUR pre- and post-game coverage available on OneSoccer. SUBSCRIBE HERE.