Despite the result, Nov. 15, 2003 is a date Patrice Bernier recollects with fondness.
“It was against Czech Republic, we lost 5-1 and I played the whole game,” said the 34-year-old midfielder. “Czech Republic was ranked about third in the world at that time and had legendary players like [Karel] Poborský and [Pavel] Nedved.
“I remember I got to switch shirts with [Marek] Jankulovski who at the time was moving to AC Milan. I think Nedved came off at halftime and everyone wanted his jersey.”
This was the first time the Brossard, Que. native suited up in the red and white and, 11 years later, if he gets on to the field against Jamaica on Tuesday night, he will have represented his country for the 50th time.
“For me it was an objective when I started in 2003,” said Bernier. “We didn’t play that many games back then so playing 50 games is a lot for a Canadian international.
“If you look at the list of players that have played that amount of games or more, it’s only about 20 players and to be part of that group is great.”
This is a team that is looking to build for the future, attempting to finally put that infamous 8-1 loss to Honduras behind them.
It was a defeat that not only ended Canada’s 2014 World Cup qualifying campaign but also left a bitter taste in the mouths of everyone associated with Canadian soccer.
“It seems like so long ago but let’s say it’s still fresh in the mind,” said the Canadian international. “This camp allows me to move on from that because it’s another process now, however when Brazil lost 7-1 to Germany in the World Cup, I understood now that we aren’t the only ones.
Especially in a semi-final match at home.”
“It’s nice to have this camp so that I don’t have to dwell on that and hopefully with Tuesday night, I won’t have what could be my last cap be that game.”
With the sun beginning to set on his international career, it’s undecided whether Bernier will play a prominent role going forward, but he is making sure he relishes every moment.
“This could be my last game or this game could be the start of a year or two stretch depending on how long I want to play,” said Bernier.
“I’m just looking to enjoy playing with some of these guys that I’ve played with for years [like Atiba Hutchinson, Dwayne DeRosario and Julian De Guzman] and wear the jersey one, two or maybe a few more times.”
It’s fitting that throughout all the countries Bernier has visited in his time with the Canadian squad, his landmark achievement could come right here on home soil, in front of the Canadian supporters he has worked so hard to represent.