Yesterday was a big day for Christine Sinclair. In the morning, France Football magazine released their shortlist for the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or award, and Sinclair’s name was included. This shouldn’t be especially notable, given Sinclair’s quality we would expect these sort of accolades to pile up almost unnoticed at this point. And yet, despite a long career as one of the very best in the world, Sinclair’s performances have all too often gone unrecognized. For the world’s second-leading scorer of all time, individual awards have been few and far between.
And speaking of that record, Sinclair also got the chance to narrow the gap between first and second later in the evening, notching one of Canada’s twelve goals in their rout of Cuba in the CONCACAF Women’s Championship. And she probably could have had more if she hadn’t passed up any number of scoring opportunities on the night in favor of passing to a teammate. But when asked after the game, she was exactly as calm as we’ve all come to expect: “put me in that position again and I’ll pass the ball every single time.”
And that’s the curious wonder of Christine Sinclair. She really is that unselfish, that motivated to simply do whatever is best for the team, that relaxed. It’s a stark contrast to most of history’s other great goal-scorers, most of whom crave the ball and the shot. Sinclair simply doesn’t have that kind of motivation. She’ll score plenty, of course, because she’s a clinical finisher and world class in her ability to find those tiny gaps needed to unleash a shot. But you never get the sense that she’s aching to score.
Chances are that Sinclair doesn’t win the Ballon d’Or this year, and that will be fair. While she’s had yet another stellar season, the likes of Sam Kerr and Pernille Harder have done even better. Still, it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on Sinclair’s performance, and celebrate the recognition that the nomination provides.
When asked about the award, Sinclair was as self-effacing as ever, saying “you look at the players on that list and it’s just an honor to be mentioned alongside of them.” It’s true that the list is filled with world-class players. But given Sinclair’s incredible career, it’s probably just as fair to say that it’s an honor for everyone on that list to get mentioned along with her.