Canada boss John Herdman said his team are “only getting started” after they ended the country’s 36-year wait to get back to the World Cup.
The head coach is an Englishman, but he has a tight bond with Canada having previously led the women’s team with distinction.
It meant Herdman was full of emotion after a 4-0 win against Jamaica in Toronto on Sunday guaranteed Canada’s place at Qatar 2022.
“I still can’t believe it,” he said. “I’ve been preaching this belief, but when it finally happens I’m speechless.
“Canadians… we’ve won Champions League finals, we’ve got a kid [Alphonso Davies] playing in Bayern Munich, and we’ve got Canadians playing at all levels in Europe, and we’ve got Canadians going to a World Cup.
“We’re a football country, that’s all we ever wanted. We wanted that respect. We wanted people to believe we were a football country, and we’ve proved it.
“We’re coming, we’re only getting started here. What a privilege it has been as a coach. I’m proud for all of these people here.”
Canada 4-0 Jamaica
Les Rouges have been the standout team in the CONCACAF section, and a first World Cup appearance since Mexico 86 now awaits them.
Speaking on Sportsnet, midfielder Jonathan Osorio said: “It’s a dream come true. We all dreamed of this as little kids and as a Canadian that was impossible.
“And today the impossible happened. It’s an incredible feeling.”
Defender Richie Laryea added: “It’s crazy, it’s a great feeling. These guys, everyone on this team worked so hard for this moment. To do it here in Toronto where a lot of the guys are from, it’s f****** incredible.”
Osorio is a Toronto FC stalwart, and Laryea, who plays in England at Nottingham Forest, said of him: “This guy’s done a lot for this programme. He’s led the way. It’s special to see him do this for club and country. For him to have that moment, it’s big for all of us but especially him and his family. Everyone here knows who he is, so it’s great.”