Scoring a goal in a FIFA World Cup can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but for Canadian striker Jordan Hamilton, the hope is that his tally on Saturday was just the first of many to come.
Hamilton (above), a 17-year-old from Scarborough, Ontario, scored Canada’s first goal in a 2-2 draw with Austria in their opening group-stage match at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Dubai.
“It’s everything I dreamt of it being,” Hamilton told MLSsoccer.com on Sunday via phone. “Scoring a goal in the World Cup is probably the best feeling I’ve ever had playing soccer. I’ve been playing since I was two, and I’ve scored a fairly decent amount of goals, [but] nothing like that. I was almost in tears when it went in.”
The Toronto FC Academy member led Canada with three goals at this year’s CONCACAF Under-17 Championship, which served as qualifying for the U-17 World Cup. Hamilton also played in the 2011 CONCACAF U-17 Championship – when he was just 14 years old – but didn’t make the final roster for that year’s U-17 World Cup.
“I was a young kid on the block, not knowing where I was, how big of a deal it was,” he said. “But it definitely helped, and it also helped to know the coach has faith in you. It’s real easy to play when you know you have someone on the sidelines that will vouch for you and believe in you, in [U-17 head coach] Sean Fleming.”
In recent years, Hamilton has seen a number of players come through the TFC Academy and sign professional deals, either at home or abroad – and he uses their success as motivation to achieve his own dreams.
The next test for Hamilton and his Canadian teammates comes Tuesday in a vital group-stage match against Iran (9 am ET, Sportsnet World. A win would virtually guarantee a spot in the Round of 16, a place Canada have never been before in the U-17 World Cup – and Hamilton is clear about his team’s chances.
“We expect to win … We need to win,” he said. “We should’ve won [against Austria], but we know what we’ve got to do. “We can’t achieve anything in this tournament if we don’t believe that we can. I definitely believe that we should win.”