Former Canada captains Paul Stalteri and Amy Walsh are the latest additions to the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame.
The 39-year-old Stalteri, the first Canadian to score in the Bundesliga, blazed a soccer trail that took him to England as well as Germany. A native of Brampton, Ont., the forward-turned-fullback retired in 2013 as Canada’s most capped player (84), a record subsequently eclipsed by Julian de Guzman (89).
Walsh, a Montreal-born midfielder, won 102 caps for Canada between 1998 and 2009.
“Definitely an honour,” Stalteri said of his call to the Hall.
So too for the 39-year-old Walsh, who said she was “blown away and profoundly honoured.”
“These standout footballers played an important role in Canadian sport and they continue to serve as role models for future generations,” Steve Reed, president of the Canadian Soccer Association, said in a statement. “They are both heroes, champions, and now honoured members of the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame.”
Both were members of teams that have already been honoured by the Hall — the 2000 Gold Cup winner and the 1998 CONCACAF women’s champions.
And both consistently answered their country’s call.
Stalteri was Canadian Player of the Year in 2001 and 2004, finishing runner-up in voting in 2005. He captained Canada 30 times from 2007 to 2010.
Now coach of the Canadian under-17 team, he played for Canada at both the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Japan in 1993 and U-20 World Cup in Malaysia in 1997. At the club level, he played for the Toronto Lynx, Werder Bremen, Tottenham Hotspur, Fulham and Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Stalteri and Kevin McKenna, who also captained Canada, became the first Canadians to play in the Bundesliga when Bremen faced off against Energie Cottbus in August 2000. Stalteri scored in Bremen’s 3-1 win.
Stalteri, who won the German league and Cup double with Bremen in 2003-04, went on to make 170 Bundesliga and 55 Premiership appearances.
“It was great to experience both leagues,” he said. “Going to England was something I’d always wanted to do.”
He played in defence, midfield and as a forward during his career, bringing energy to whatever role he was given.
Walsh, whose sister Cindy also played for Canada, captained Canada more than 25 times. A four-time Quebec player of the year, she started a then-record 43 consecutive matches for the national team from 1998 to 2001.
An energetic ball-winner, Walsh was a key cog in Canada’s women’s team.
Her high school yearbook goal was to play in a World Cup. She played in two — 1999 and 2007 — as well as the 2008 Olympics.
On the club level, she helped the Atlanta Beat reach the 2001 WUSA final. She also played for Ottawa Fury FC, FC Select Rive-Sud, Montreal Xtreme and Laval Comets.
Walsh had her soccer ups and downs, recovering from a knee injury and some bumps along the way as the women’s game tried to find its professional niche.
She was cut after a poor showing at her first national team camp in 1997 after playing for Canada’s under-20 team. She credits University of Nebraska coach John Walker, an assistant with the Canadian team, for helping her back into the national team fold.
“I got to live through all kinds of roles and all sorts of mental tests that I think only made me a better player and a better teammate,” she said of her soccer career.
After having her first child, Walsh planned to continue playing for the national team. Teammate Martina Franko was in the same situation.
But then-coach Carolina Morace had the team based in Italy and the logistics of combining motherhood and national team play proved to be too much for the Canadian Soccer Association.
“We were sort of coaxed (into retirement),” said Walsh, now a mother of three including twins.
She was 32 when she won her last cap for Canada.
Other career highlights include her first cap — against China in Ottawa — and beating the U.S. 3-0 at the 2001 Algarve Cup.
Today, Walsh teaches yoga but is not involved with soccer. Her love for the game continues, however, and she is certain she will be involved again in the future.
The addition of Stalteri and Walsh brings the Hall of Fame roll to 175 honoured members: 112 players, 12 coaches, 10 officials and 41 builders. The Hall also honours 10 teams and seven organizations.
The two new inductees will be honoured separately at events later this year.