Ian Bridge (seen during his time as a coach with Canada) was a key defender for the 1986 World Cup team.While Canadians bought the 11th-most World Cup tickets, the country's men's national team didn't make it to Brazil this year, as has been the case for every edition of the tournament except 1986. With every successive World Cup that goes by (and every small nation that outperforms Canada), that 1986 appearance at the World Cup in Mexico begins to look more and more special. To find about what it was like for those on the team, I spoke to Ian Bridge, a defender who recorded 34 international appearances for Canada over his career and played in all three of the country's World Cup games in 1986; he's currently an assistant coach with the University of Victoria Vikes. Bridge said last week the feeling he got in September 1985 when the team qualified for the World Cup with a 2-1 win over Honduras in St. John's, Newfoundland was unlike anything else in his career. Despite being hurt in the first half and feeling down personally about that, Bridge said the result was still exhilarating.
"The moment of qualification, the game in St. John's, was maybe the one moment of my career," he said. "I felt total elation that we were going to make a World Cup."
Bridge was only 26 when Canada qualified for the World Cup in 1985, but he had already spent plenty of years playing at high levels by that point. He racked up 100 appearances for the Seattle Sounders of the old North American Soccer League from 1979-83, then 24 for the Vancouver Whitecaps and 39 for the Tacoma Stars of the Major Indoor Soccer League. He went to the Swiss league in 1985, and would play there with FC La Chaux-de-Fonds until 1990, then return to Canada for a couple of years before moving into coaching. However, while his career was far from over at the time Canada qualified, he said it felt like the culmination of everything he'd done to that point.
"To almost crown a career with that was perfect."Read More »from Ian Bridge speaks about Canada’s only World Cup appearance in 1986, which caused “total elation”