There are 26 days until the 2014 World Cup kicks off and while for some countries it's practically a rite of passage every four years, Canada is still trying to climb its way back.
But their one and only appearance thus far in 1986 still left its mark on a then 12-year-old Jason deVos, who went on to wear Canada's colors and today covers the game for TSN:
It was a defining moment in my soccer career. I watched that tournament on TV and watched those players representing Canada. It was a like a light bulb went off for me.
The first game against France, you look at that France team back then, they were absolutely stacked with phenomenal players. And Canada managed to keep the powerful French team off the scoreboard until the 80th minute when Papin stepped up and scored. It was a valiant effort by a group of underdogs in every sense of the word. And I guess you can argue that's how the [Canadian] men's soccer program has gone ever since: a valiant effort from a group of underdogs without every achieving the ultimate goal.
I was 12 years old. I was just coming into the phase of my soccer career where I was starting to get success and get recognition. I was on the [Ontario] provincial team and tried out for the team that summer. I didn't make it, but I was a youngster really trying to find his way in sports. I played hockey in the winter and soccer [with the London Youth soccer club] in the summer. But watching the World Cup in '86 and watching Canada play on that stage, I made up my mind then and there that that's what I wanted to do and I wanted to get to that level.
I looked up to guys like Ian Bridge and Randy Samuel. Bruce Wilson was another fantastic player and had he played for any other nation he would've had a much celebrated career. And Bob Lenarduzzi, the president of the Whitecaps. I wanted to be like them and that's the power of an event like the World Cup. It's the impact it has on that next generation of players.
That was starting point for me, '86 and onwards. That was the seed planted in my mind of what I could achieve in the game. From that point forward, that was the overriding goal in the back of my mind.
I wanted to do the same thing.
And to go ahead and captain my country was a great honor. And the fact that I couldn't get Canada back to a World Cup is the biggest disappointment in my career. And that disappointment is going to haunt me for the rest of my days.
The single greatest thing we can do for the development of soccer in Canada is for the men's team to qualify for the World Cup. The attention it would get is unmatched by any sporting event we've ever experienced.
Why do you think Canada has been unable to reach a World Cup in 28 years? What's the missing ingredient for Canada to make the big leap? Share your comments below:
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