Atiba Hutchinson has been named Canadian male soccer player of the year for the a record sixth time.
The 34-year-old midfielder from Brampton, Ont., helped Besiktas to its second straight Turkish league title in 2016-17. Hutchinson and Besiktas have also reached the round of 16 of the Champions League after a Turkish-record performance in the group stage.
Hutchinson leads the Turkish league in pass completion this season at 94.6 per cent.
It’s the fourth year in a row Hutchinson has won the Canadian Soccer Association award, decided iby Canadian coaches and media. He also was honoured with the award in 2010 and 2012, setting the record for most wins last year at five.
“Obviously I’m very delighted,” Hutchinson said in an interview. “To have done it six times is something very special … It’s amazing. I’m very honoured and proud.
“I’ve put in a lot of work. To have people recognize it and appreciate what I’ve done, I’m very grateful for.”
Dwayne De Rosario won the award four times (2005, ’06, ’07, ’11).
The women’s winner will be announced Thursday.
Canadian ‘among the best’
Hutchinson finished ahead of runner-up Scott Arfield of Burnley and Alphonso Davies (Vancouver), Patrice Bernier (Montreal), Milan Borjan (Red Star Belgrade) and Junior Hoilett (Cardiff City).
Hutchinson, who made his debut for Canada at the age of 19, has won 78 caps to tie Mark Watson for fifth on the all-time list. He has captained his country six times, most recently in a 2-0 win over Jamaica in September.
“He is playing at the highest level competing against the best in the world and his stats place him among the best of the best,” Canada coach Octavio Zambrano said in a statement.
“With Canada against Jamaica, you could just tell that his presence alone both on and off the field made a huge impact with the men’s national team. He is at the top of the game and he is more than worthy of winning this award for the 2017 season.”
European success with Besiktas
Besiktas made waves by winning its Champions League group with a 4-0-2 record, finishing ahead of Portugal’s Porto, Germany’s Leipzig and AS Monaco. The only other teams to emerge unbeaten from the group stage were Barcelona, Liverpool and Tottenham.
The first Turkish team to top a group and qualify undefeated, Besiktas also set a record for most points (14), goals (11) and wins (4) by a Turkish team in group play.
Its reward is a round-of-16 date with five-time European champion Bayern Munich.
The more difficult the opponent, the greater the happiness in victory!
Obstacles don’t keep us down, they make us fight harder!
Hutchinson, known as the Octopus for his long legs and ability to shield the ball, led all Besiktas players in covering more than 50 kilometres over the five group games.
The Black Eagles currently stand fourth in the Turkish Super League with a 7-2-6 record, five points behind leader Galatasaray (10-3-2).
Hutchinson joined Besiktas in 2013 after three seasons with PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands. In 2015, he signed a two-year contract extension.
He started his career in Scandinavia with Osters and Helsingborg in Sweden and FC Copenhagen in Denmark.
His trophy cases includes four Danish titles (2006, 2007, 2009, 2010), one Danish Cup (2009), one Dutch Cup (2012) and two Turkish league titles (2016, 2017).
Hutchinson also led Besiktas to the Europa League quarterfinals last season.