The most famous trophy in the world of sports touched down in Toronto Wednesday morning.
The FIFA World Cup Trophy, emblematic of international soccer supremacy, made its only Canadian stop as part of a global tour ahead of the tournament that kicks off Nov. 20 in Qatar. Canada, one of 32 World Cup teams, is making its first appearance in the sport's greatest showcase in 36 years.
For Dwayne De Rosario, the former Canadian men's national team midfielder who helped greet the solid gold trophy at Pearson Airport, the excitement and energy was palpable as officials unveiled it in a glass case. He said he had never been that close to the trophy before Wednesday.
"I was full of emotions, excitement and joy and tears," he told CBC Toronto.
"I can remember watching guys like Maradona and Pele, and these players lift this trophy, and it's like, 'Wow, you're right there.' It's a dream come true."
The trophy headed to BMO Field at Exhibition Place for an afternoon VIP reception, "fan activation" event and fireside chat with former Canadian national team players.
The original trophy is on 51-country tour to build excitement. On Nov. 23, Canada will play its first game of the tournament.
The U.S., Canada and Mexico will host the World Cup in 2026. De Rosario said it's an important symbol that carries meaning beyond the field.
"It's a trophy that unites the world. It brings the world together. Every nation, every continent, every country is involved in football in some capacity," he said.
"To know that it's coming to our city, it's far beyond the sport. It's going to create history, it's going to create culture."
Made of 18 carat gold, the original World Cup Trophy stands 36.8 centimetres tall, or 14.5 inches, and it weights 6.142 kilograms, or 13.54 pounds. It depicts two human figures holding a globe aloft.
Fans were able to have their photos taken with the trophy at BMO field.
World Cup 2026 means jobs for Toronto, mayor says
Toronto Mayor John Tory, also on hand for the unveiling of the trophy, said he's excited about Canada's participation at the World Cup this year.
He added he is looking ahead to 2026, when Toronto will be among the host cities. A big international spectacle such as the World Cup will do a lot for the city economically and will mean jobs, he said.
More than 250,000 visitors are expected in Toronto for the event, he said.
"What that means is, hotel rooms across this region full of visitors. It means restaurants full of people eating. It means people shopping. It means people seeing our city and our region and our province and deciding to invest in and to come to live here."
Before reaching Toronto, the trophy stopped in Los Angeles on Nov. 5, Dallas on Nov. 6 and 7, and New York City on Nov. 8.
Canada's schedule at the World Cup is as follows:
Canada vs. Belgium — Nov. 23.
Canada vs. Croatia — Nov. 27.
Canada vs. Morocco — Dec. 1.
The top two teams in Canada's group will advance to the Round of 16.