By Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press on December 15, 2023.
Jessie Fleming and Stephen Eustaquio, two key cogs in the Canadian midfield, have been named Canada Soccer Players of the Year.
The two winners were decided by a vote of Canadian coaches and media for their performance over the year for both Canada and their club teams, England’s Chelsea for Fleming and Portugal’s FC Porto for Eustaquio.
It marks the third straight year that Fleming has won the award. And this year’s honour is perhaps especially fitting, given that the 25-year-old from London, Ont., is seen as the heir apparent to Christine Sinclair as Canada captain.
The 40-year-old Sinclair, who played her last international game earlier this month, won the Canadian award 14 times. Fleming has worn the captain’s armband when Sinclair didn’t start in recent times.
It’s a first win for Eustaquio, ending Alphonso Davies’ three-year hold on the men’s award run. The 23-year-old Bayern Munich fullback had won the award four of the last five years.
Davies was runner-up this year with Lille forward Jonathan David third. Celtic fullback Alistair Johnston and Watford’s Ismael Kone finished in the top five.
Arsenal forward Cloe Lacasse was the women’s runner-up with Chelsea fullback/midfielder Ashley Lawrence third. Lyon centre back Vanessa Gilles and Aston Villa forward Adriana Leon rounded out the top five.
Earlier this week, Kone and Harvard defender Jade Rose were named the Young Players of the Year, Samuel Charron Para Soccer Player of the Year and Safwane Mlah Futsal Player of the Year.
Eustaquio is the creative driving force in the Canadian midfield and, like Fleming, plays an important in delivering Canadian set-piece balls.
The 26-year-old from Leamington, Ont., scored a goal – the game-winner in Canada’s first victory in Jamaica in 35 years – and registered an assist in six Canada matches in 2023.
At club through January through November, he made 41 appearances, played 2,732 minutes, scored five goals and added two assists for Porto. He helped the storied Portuguese club finish second in the 2022-23 Primeira Liga and reach the round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League.
Eustaquio has won 34 caps for Canada.
Fleming featured in 12 of Canada’s 13 matches and had one assist while helping Canada qualify for the Paris Olympics and taking part in her third World Cup.
Able to play both a deeper midfielder and more attacking role, she has 123 caps to her credit.
At club level from January to November 2023, Fleming made 32 appearances, played 1,588 minutes and scored two goals. She also helped Chelsea reach the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League.
Canada Soccer Players of the Year
2023 Stephen Eustaquio and Jessie Fleming
2022: Alphonso Davies and Jessie Fleming
2021: Alphonso Davies and Jessie Fleming
2020: Alphonso Davies and Kadeisha Buchanan
2019: Jonathan David and Ashley Lawrence
2018: Alphonso Davies and Christine Sinclair
2017: Atiba Hutchinson and Kadeisha Buchanan
2016: Atiba Hutchinson and Christine Sinclair
2015: Atiba Hutchinson and Kadeisha Buchanan
2014: Atiba Hutchinson and Christine Sinclair
2013: Will Johnson and Christine Sinclair
2012: Atiba Hutchinson and Christine Sinclair
2011: Dwayne De Rosario and Christine Sinclair
2010: Atiba Hutchinson and Christine Sinclair
2009: Simeon Jackson and Christine Sinclair
2008: Julian de Guzman and Christine Sinclair
2007: Dwayne De Rosario and Christine Sinclair
2006: Dwayne De Rosario and Christine Sinclair
2005: Dwayne De Rosario and Christine Sinclair
2004: Paul Stalteri and Christine Sinclair
2003: Pat Onstad and Charmaine Hooper
2002: Jason deVos and Charmaine Hooper
2001: Paul Stalteri and Andrea Neil
2000: Craig Forrest and Christine Sinclair
1999: Jim Brennan and Geraldine Donnelly
1998: Tomasz Radzinski and Silvana Burtini
1997: Mark Watson and Janine Helland
1996: Paul Peschisolido and Geraldine Donnelly
1995: Alex Bunbury and Charmaine Hooper
1994: Craig Forrest and Charmaine Hooper
1993: Alex Bunbury
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 15, 2023