World Cup fans cheer for the Leamington, Ontario player despite defeat

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

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

Alphonso Davies went down in history by scoring Canada’s first goal in World Cup history. The team would go on to lose 4-1.

That hasn’t detracted from Leamington-born Stephen Eustáquio’s local pride, which inspires his hometown.

“The pride factor is immense right now. To be Canadian and to be involved in the soccer scene, not just in Leamington but across Canada,” said Dan Santos, Founder and President of Leamington SC United Soccer Club.

“This is a big moment now and will continue for the next few years.”

CLOCK | Canada makes history at the World Cup:

Alphonso Davies makes history with his first Canadian soccer goal at a men’s World Cup

Host Andi Petrillo will join former Canada international Jimmy Brennan in breaking the historic first goal scored by Alphonso Davies at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Santos said the local club cheered on the whole team and Eustáquio in particular. She created a video on social media showing her support.

Canada lost to Belgium and Croatia, so it’s already known that the team won’t advance to the group stage at the tournament.

The final action for Eustáquio and his team-mates comes against Morocco on Thursday.

“He and his family alone, just extraordinary people,” said Carlos Soares, head of club player development at Leamington SC and a friend of the Eustáquio family.

“We were basically raised by family friends, we have the same relatives so I still remember them when they were here and then basically followed Stephen’s journey since he started playing football. Family is incredible, and honestly it’s no surprise.”

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

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

Now Soares is enjoying his achievements.

“I can’t even begin to explain the emotions that flow through your body,” he said. “It’s nothing but pride, I’m so proud of the team.”

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

Soares and Santos said their hometown ties inspire their young players.

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