For the second year running, Atiba Hutchinson is Canada’s top male player of the year.
The 32-year-old Besiktas midfielder was unveiled by the Canadian Soccer Association on Friday as the top vote-getter for 2015 Male Player of the Year (chosen by Canadian media and coaches), adding to his previous wins in 2014, 2012 and 2010.
He’s only the second player to win the award on four separate occasions, following in the footsteps of former Canadian teammate Dwayne De Rosario.
“I’m excited to win it again, for the fourth time,” Hutchinson told reporters via conference call on Friday. “It’s a very proud moment for me.”
Hutchinson, who is sixth in all-time appearances for Canada with 73, had another standout season for club and country. He helped lead Besiktas to a third-place finish in the 2014-15 Turkish Super Lig (and the UEFA Europa League spot that comes with it), while also leading Canada to four points from its first two games in the semifinal round of World Cup qualifying.
“[Winning the award] does give me a push,” said Hutchinson. “To know that people are looking at me that way and appreciating my game, it goes a long way. I want to continue to do that.”
Looking ahead, Hutchinson says he can’t wait for Canada to get back into World Cup qualifying, which resumes with a pair of matches against Mexico in late March.
“I think about it so much,” he said. “I don’t want it to be that far away, especially since our team has been doing well the last time around.”
Thanks to that good start (a win over Honduras and a draw against El Salvador in November), Hutchinson is full of optimism about the team’s four remaining qualifiers, and Canada’s chances of reaching the Hexagonal round for the first time since 1997.
“It’d mean a lot, not just for the group, but for the whole country,” he said. “It’d be a very big step for us, and I think it’s possible.”
In the final voting for male player of the year, Hutchinson finished just ahead of Orlando City SC striker Cyle Larin – and Hutchinson said he wouldn’t have been surprised to see the 20-year-old rookie phenom claim the honor instead of him.
“He’s had an amazing season,” said Hutchinson. “Personally, I thought he had a really good chance of winning it.”
As for the Canadian female player of the year, it was announced on Thursday that 20-year-old defender Kadeisha Buchanan had claimed the honor. In a neat coincidence, both Hutchinson and Buchanan hail from the same hometown: Brampton, Ontario.
“It’s nice to see my hometown, some good athletes coming out of there,” said Hutchinson. “It’s a nice feeling.”
Earlier in the week, the CSA had also unveiled its Under-20 players of the year (Michael Petrasso and Jessie Fleming) and its Under-17 players of the year (Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2's Kadin Chung and Kennedy Faulknor).