“I’m desperate to see the boys get to Qatar (for the 2022 World Cup) and let the world see what a fantastic place Canadian soccer is in. Thank you, It’s been a pleasure.”
Arfield did not specify why he was leaving the international game. But he has not played for Canada since November 2019, focusing instead on his health, family and club career.
Arfield won 19 caps for Canada with two goals and seven assists. He wore the captain’s armband five times, including a historic 2-0 win over the U.S. in Toronto in October 2019 — Canada’s first victory over the Americans in 34 years.
“It was a pleasure and privilege to work with Scott Arfield on Canada Soccer’s men’s national team,” Canadian coach John Herdman said in a statement. “His passion for the game was infectious and he helped lay a strong foundation that has helped the team build towards the success in this cycle of FIFA World Cup qualifiers. We wish him all the best in the future.”
Herdman appointed Arfield captain in 2018 with veteran Atiba Hutchinson then focusing on his health and club career in Turkey with Besiktas.
“Scott brings a super-outgoing positive energy and he’s vocal,” Herdman said at the time.
The Scottish-born Arfield, a native of Livingston, qualified to play for Canada through his Toronto-born father. Arfield’s grandfather was in the military and was briefly stationed in Canada.
Arfield had won 17 caps for the Scotland under-21 team and one for Scotland B. But he never got an invite from the senior side.
The call from Canada came after Arfield — at a birthday bash for club teammate Sam Vokes — mentioned his Canadian bloodlines to Burnley defender David Edgar, a Canadian who is now an assistant coach with Forge FC.
Then-assistant coach Mike Findlay, with then-head coach Benito Floro, brought Arfield into the Canadian fold.
Invited to play for Canada, he threw his heart into it — making his debut in March 2016 in a World Cup qualifying loss to Mexico in Vancouver.
Former Canada coach Octavio Zambrano raved about Arfield’s character.
“I can’t say enough about him,” he said in 2017. “Professionalism, commitment, just sheer quality of talent. Good in the locker-room. I think he is on his way to becoming a much more important part as a member of our team, because of what he exudes.”
Arfield has always worn his heart on his sleeve — and his back.
He wears No. 37 for Rangers, as he did for his former club Burnley, as a tribute to former Falkirk teammate Craig Gowans, who was killed in a freak accident on the training ground in 2005 when a metal pole he was holding touched an overhead power line.
Arfield joined England’s Burnley in 2013 after stints with Falkirk and Huddersfield.
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 16, 2022
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press