World Cup fans cheer on the player from Leamington, Ontario, despite a loss

Despite another World Cup loss on Sunday, fans in southwestern Ontario were excited to cheer on the players, especially a midfielder with Leamington roots.

It was a bittersweet moment for Canada on Sunday in Qatar’s game against Croatia.

Alphonso Davies finished in the history books, scoring Canada’s first goal in World Cup history. The team would go on to lose 4-1.

That has done little to dent the local pride in Leamington-born Stephen Eustáquio, who has been delighting his hometown.

“The pride factor is huge right now. Being Canadian and being involved in the soccer scene, not just in Leamington, but anywhere in Canada,” said Dan Santos, founder and president of Leamington SC United Soccer Club.

“It’s a great time now and in the future for years to come.”

CLOCK | Canada makes World Cup history:

Alphonso Davies makes history with Canada Soccer’s first goal in a Men’s World Cup

Host Andi Petrillo joins former Canadian men’s international Jimmy Brennan to discuss the historic first goal scored by Alphonso Davies at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Santos said that the local club has been cheering on the whole team, and especially Eustáquio. He created a video on social media, showing his support.

Canada has lost to Belgium and Croatia, so it is already known that the team will not advance to the group stage in the tournament.

The final action of Eustáquio and his teammates will be on Thursday, against Morocco.

“Him and his family alone, exceptional people,” said Carlos Soares, head of player development for the Leamington SC club and a friend of the Eustáquio family.

“We grew up, basically through family friends, we share the same relatives, so I still remember them when they were here, and I’ve basically been following Stephen’s journey since he started playing football. The family is amazing, and honestly It’s not a surprise.”

Canadian forward Alphonso Davies celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against Croatia during the first half of a group stage match against Croatia during the 2022 World Cup at Khalifa International Stadium. Davies lived in Windsor, Ontario for about a year. (Yukihito Taguchi/USA TODAY Sports)

Soares said he remembers Eustáquio’s dedication to his sport, practicing and coaching on family vacations as a teenager.

Now, Soares enjoys watching his successes.

“I can’t even begin to explain the emotions that run through your body,” she said. “It’s nothing more than pride, I’m very proud of the team.”

Davies lived in Windsor for a year when his family came to Canada from Africa.

Soares and Santos said the local connections are inspiring their young players.

Watch Soccer North live immediately after each of Canada’s games on CBC Gem, and the CBC Sports YouTube channel

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