Part of 2000 Gold Cup champions, Richard Hastings enters Canada Soccer Hall of Fame
Richard Hastings thought he was getting on a Canada Soccer call with former teammates Paul Stalteri and Julian de Guzman to reminisce about the 2007 Gold Cup.
Instead Hastings, who made the Gold Cup Best XI that year, found himself on the line with Canada captain Atiba Hutchinson, coach John Herdman and former Canadian internationals Jason deVos, Iain Hume and Craig Forrest.
It was Hutchinson who broke the news that Hastings was headed to the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame.
"Obviously I was surprised but then once I kind of knew what was going on, it started sinking in," Hastings recalled. "It was just a great feeling, in terms of acknowledgment and recognition. Not just from the (Canadian Soccer) Association but from my peers … It was a really nice feeling and obviously a proud moment."
Hastings and former defender Carmelina Moscato, who won 94 caps for Canada as well as a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics, are the latest Hall of Fame inductees.
Hastings, 45, will be honoured March 28 at the Canadian men's CONCACAF Nations League match against Honduras in Toronto. Moscato, 38, will be showcased before a future women's national team game.
While primarily a defender, Hastings is most remembered for the winning goal against mighty Mexico in the 2000 Gold Cup quarterfinal in San Diego.
At the time, the Mexicans were ranked first in CONCACAF and 10th in the world. Canada was ninth in the region and 85th in the world.
The Canadian men had just three wins in their previous 22 meetings with Mexico (3-13-6) and had been outscored 52-14.
So the odds were against Canada that day in 2000 at Qualcomm Stadium. And it seemed business as usual when Ramon Ramirez put the Mexicans ahead in the 35th minute.
But Carlo Corazzin headed home a Martin Nash cross in the 83rd minute and, after the regulation 90 minutes, the game went to sudden death.
The winning goal came in transition after Canada defended a Mexican corner. The Canadians cleared quickly and went on the counterattack. With three onrushing teammates to choose from, Nash found Hastings — the farthest to his left — with a perfectly floated pass that took three Mexican defenders out of the play,
The ball reached Hastings outside the penalty box. Without breaking stride, he used his right thigh to redirect the ball in front of him. And when he caught up with the ball, he roofed it past goalkeeper Oscar Perez.
Canada went on to defeat Trinidad and Tobago 1-0 in the Gold Cup semifinal and Colombia 2-0 in the final to complete an unlikely tournament run that had required winning a coin flip over South Korea just to reach the knockout rounds.
Hastings was named the tournament's top rookie. Corazzin took top scorer honours, deVos the Fair Play Award and Forrest was named tournament MVP.
A 22-year-old Hastings came in off the bench in Canada's tournament opener against Costa Rica to replace injured defender Paul Fenwick. Canada coach Holger Osieck then threw Hastings a curve ahead of the next game.
"He said I would be starting, which I was delighted with. But he then said I would be playing in centre midfield," Hastings recalled. "I just was astonished. I had to make it clear to him. I said 'That's great Holger. But you do realize that I've never played centre-mid before?' And he went 'Ah, you'll be OK.'"
"He had trust in me, in what he saw in me … For the tournament to have gone the way it did, I could never have dreamt for it to go that way," Hastings added.
He played in midfield the rest of the tournament in Osieck's 3-5-2 formation on a Gold Cup squad that has since been recognized as a Canada Soccer Team of Distinction.
It's a lesson Hastings has taken into his own managerial career, empowering players "to go and do a job that they maybe didn't think they could do."
As proud as he is of the highlight-reel strike against Mexico, the only goal of his senior international career, Hastings is equally proud of winning 59 caps (including 54 starts) from 1998 to 2010.
At club level, he spent most of his career with Inverness Caledonian Thistle but also played for Ross County, Hamilton Academicals and Brora Rangers elsewhere in Scotland, Grazer AK in Austria and MVV Maastricht in the Netherlands.
He retired in 2013.
Most recently Hastings managed the Highland League's Inverurie Loco Works FC from Inverurie, steeping down in late January. He had taken over the semi-pro club in the summer of 2021.
He previously served as Inverness under-17 coach and Ross County's academy and under-18 coach.
Hastings came to the 2000 Gold Cup on the back of helping Inverness upset Celtic 3-1 in the Scottish Cup third round at Celtic Park.
It gave birth to the famous Scottish Sun headline “Super Caley Go Ballistic, Celtic Are Atrocious,” a homage to an earlier Liverpool Echo headline reporting on a 1970s showcase performance by Ian Callaghan for Liverpool against Queens Park Rangers — "Super Cally Goes Ballistic, QPR Atrocious."
Born in Prince George, B.C., to English-born parents, Hastings was seven when the family moved back to England and 12 when it shifted to Scotland.
Now a father of three with two boys playing youth-level football at local clubs, Hastings spent a couple of years in Canada after retiring as a player before returning to Scotland where he makes his home in Inverness.
He has been impressed from a distance with the current Canadian squad.
"I think it's going to open the door for a lot more young Canadian players to come across (to Europe). Because now Canadians are taken a bit more seriously for their display at the World Cup," he said. "I see that as a huge takeaway."
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 14, 2023
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press