Canada's Christine Sinclair breaks record for most international goals

Christine Sinclair has scored more goals than anyone in the history of international soccer.

For a famously soft-spoken player who prefers to let her play make all the noise, that says it all.

Sinclair's second goal in Canada's 11-0 win over Saint Kitts and Nevis on Wednesday was the 185th of her career, surpassing previous record holder Abby Wambach of the United States. The game was each team's opener in the CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying Championship.

"Just unbelievable," Sinclair said on what it means to be soccer's most prolific goal scorer. "When I first started with the national team, I could never have imagined standing here with the number of goals I've scored."

Wambach congratulated Sinclair in a tweet, writing, "Christine: History is made. Your victory is our victory. We celebrate with you.

"And to every girl coming up in the Pack with a dream to achieve that which doesn't yet even exist: We believe in you. Your Pack is with you. And history awaits you."

"When I first started, Mia [Hamm] had the record and I was like, 'Oh my God, that's so many goals,'" Sinclair told TSN. "How does someone reach that? Just kept ticking away and I've been very fortunate with injuries and the longevity of it."

Wednesday's outing was Sinclair's first multiple-goal performance in nearly two years, since she scored twice against Panama during qualifying for the 2019 World Cup. It also was her 290th appearance for Canada. Only Americans Kristine Lilly and Christie Rampone have more all-time appearances.

Saint Kitts and Nevis, appearing in the final round of Olympic qualifying for the first time, was the 41st country against which Sinclair had scored in international competition.

Just 16 years old when she debuted for Canada in the 2000 Algarve Cup in Portugal, Sinclair scored her first career goal against Norway in her second appearance in that tournament.

She scored the first of 11 career goals against the United States a few days shy of her 17th birthday in 2000. That goal came in a 9-1 defeat, but she scored again in a 3-1 win against the U.S. later the same year, in Canada's second win against the Americans.

Justin Trudeau, Canada's prime minister, congratulated Sinclair for reaching the landmark.

"We have watched her grow from teenage star on the local grounds to international superstar who is adored around the world," Canada Soccer president Steven Reed said.

CONCACAF president and FIFA vice president Victor Montagliani also offered congratulations and thanked Sinclair for her contribution to the sport.

"To have scored an all-time international record goal haul, and to still be going strong, is truly outstanding. Christine's achievements have made her an icon in Canada," Montagliani said. "She transcends the sport and is a wonderful role model for people across the country."

Iranian great Ali Daei holds the men's international scoring record with 109 goals in 149 appearances.

The 2003 World Cup marked Sinclair's first appearance in major tournament, and she scored in her debut game against eventual champion Germany. She totaled three goals in all as Canada finished fourth, still its best World Cup finish.

Her most prolific single year coincided with arguably her most memorable single performance. Sinclair scored 23 goals in 22 games for Canada in 2012. That famously included a hat trick against the United States in an Olympic semifinal at Old Trafford in Manchester, England.

Canada lost that semifinal, widely viewed as one of the best games in women's soccer history, in controversial fashion after a late free kick and penalty kick enabled the U.S. to pull level before winning in the 123rd minute. But Canada went on to beat France to win the bronze medal, the first podium finish for the country in a major international soccer tournament.

While she scored the only goal in Canada's opening win against China as host of the 2015 World Cup, Sinclair scored just once more before her team's quarterfinal exit. But her three goals in the 2016 Olympics helped propel the Canadians to a second consecutive bronze medal.

Sinclair also has been a fixture in the American soccer scene. A two-time Hermann Trophy winner as college soccer's best player at the University of Portland, she holds the NCAA Division I record with 39 goals in a season. She is second all time with 108 NCAA career goals.

She helped Portland to NCAA championships in 2002 and 2005.

She also has starred in Portland throughout the history of the National Women's Soccer League. As the league enters its eighth season, Sinclair is second in league history with 49 goals. She won titles with the Portland Thorns in 2013 and 2017.

She also won two titles in Women's Professional Soccer, one of the NWSL's predecessors.

Wambach held the international scoring record for a little more than six years. Sinclair's hold on the record might depend on someone who is currently not on the field. Carli Lloyd is the closest active player with 122 career goals, but the American captain is a year older than Sinclair, 36. Marta, 33, holds the World Cup record with 17 career goals in that tournament; but partly because Brazil historically plays infrequently outside of major competition years, Marta is more than 75 goals behind Sinclair.

That leaves American Alex Morgan as perhaps the most likely candidate to challenge Sinclair's record -- whatever the final tally ends up being. Morgan, 30, has 107 career goals. But her international career is temporarily on hold while she awaits the birth of her first child.

Sinclair and Canada continue their Olympic qualification campaign with group games against Jamaica and Mexico. The winner of that group probably avoids a semifinal against the United States, the heavy favorite to win the tournament's other group that also includes Costa Rica, Haiti and Panama. Only the two semifinal winners qualify for the 2020 Olympics.

Information from Reuters was used in this report.