Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Atiba Hutchinson Savours Soccer Award, Looks to Lead Canada to Higher Ground

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Atiba Hutchinson Savours Soccer Award, Looks to Lead Canada to Higher Ground

Article excerpt

Hutchinson says he's always there for Canada


TORONTO - At 31, Canadian midfielder Atiba Hutchinson is hitting his stride at Turkey's Besiktas. And people are taking notice.

"Atiba is our best player,'' says Canadian coach Benito Floro. "He is the best player in Besiktas.''

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger agreed after his team played Besiktas in the Champions League in August. "I was impressed by Hutchinson," he said.

Canadian media, coaches and clubs agreed in voting Hutchinson the Canadian Men's Player of the Year for a third time. Canadian captain Christine Sinclair was chosen top women's player for the 12th time -- and 11th straight year.

"It kind of does feel like I'm at the peak of my career," Hutchinson said Friday on a conference call. "For me, maybe the last three or four years, I didn't get to play in my natural position as much as I would like. And now I'm doing that and I'm doing that with a team that's playing very good football right now.

"Right now I'm at a good point in my career and I'm probably playing some of the best football that I've been playing in a while. I'm pretty pleased with that."

His preferred position is in central midfield, although he was asked to play right back while in the Netherlands before joining Besiktas.

Hutchinson built his career carefully, starting in Scandinavia with Osters and Helsingborg in Sweden and FC Copenhagen in Denmark. His next move was to Dutch side PSV Eindhoven in 2010, a stint that was interrupted by three surgeries to his left knee.

While he enjoys his Turkish club, his contract expires at the end of the season. Hutchinson has always had a desire to play in England, so is open to change.

"It's kind of hard not to know what's happening and hear all the rumours," he said. "A lot of it sometimes is rumours. Some of it is a little bit more serious than others. I'm just playing it by ear and seeing what happens over the next couple of months, because in January I'm open to speak to anyone. …

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