Maxime Crépeau – My Lost World Cup | Sports
HASBefore even feeling the pain, before even seeing the state of my leg, I knew. This noise is the bone that broke.
I then fell on the lawn, my gaze met that of my teammate Ilie Sanchez and I signaled to the trainers of the team to come on the field.
I didn’t hurt for a few seconds. Then all of a sudden my brain realized my leg was fractured, the nerves kicked in and I was gripped in pain.
If you saw the pictures, I looked in control, calm, but if you knew how much pain I was in.
When I broke my thumb while playing for the Vancouver Whitecaps three years ago, I couldn’t control my breathing. I was completely panicked. This time, instinctively, I started to breathe, trying to relax. I stayed calm, I controlled myself.
I knew it was over. I then had two options. I could panic and leave the field, leaving the stadium in a gloomy atmosphere. I rather chose to motivate my teammates, to tell them that it was not over.
I asked security to pick up my family from the stands. My parents, my in-laws and my wife, Cristina, joined me in the tunnel.
My parents knew that the hour was serious. I told Cristina my leg was broken. She answered me that I was correct.
My wife, she is always there to encourage me, to push me to surpass myself. Again, she was trying to cheer me up. It’s a superwoman. It’s the wife, the mother, the nurse…
At that time, it was still fine. I was on adrenaline, I guess. But the second I stepped into the ambulance, reality hit me hard.
It was over.
My dream had just gotten the hell out. I had to forget the World Cup.
I looked at Cristina and started crying my heart out.
MDespite my injury and the red card, I don’t regret having chosen to go for the ball. Some may say it’s anti-game, but duels are part of football.
After hitting my teammate’s calf, the ball started to slow down. I saw Cory Burke coming. In this case, I didn’t have time to think. It was purely instinctive. I see it as a 50-50. The second he touches the ball, that’s when I get the momentum. I know there will be contact. I arrived late and it was I who took the worst part of this duel.
If there is no fault, if there is no duel, the story of the match would have been different. I don’t think we would have been champions.
I wouldn’t change anything. After all, we won!
The day after the victory, on Sunday, I had surgery to repair the fracture. As soon as I woke up, I asked the doctor if I could leave. He found me very funny. I would have loved to experience this day of celebration with my teammates.
I experienced the parade live on the phone, while my family had been invited to the festivities. I saw and heard the crowd chanting:
Crepeau, Crepeau, Crepeau! It was so unreal.
When I left the hospital, I told my wife that I had the impression that this final was a match like any other. Yes, we won, but I didn’t celebrate it. I went home without even touching the trophy.
A few days later, the club surprised me by coming to visit me with the two trophies, that of the Western Conference championship and the famous MLS cup.
When I held those trophies, I thought about the work it took to get to this moment. It’s been 10 years since I signed my first professional contract and it’s the first time I’ve been on a winning team. It was a lot of sacrifice for my family and me. It’s me who plays on the field, but it’s not just me who takes the hits. My wife and I have moved eight times and I have never been there. Trophies are the reward for all those more difficult moments.
During my career, I took risks. I bet on myself and it paid off. I had to take a step back by going to play in Ottawa, but I never stopped believing in it. Today, I am rewarded for my efforts.
I know very well that some have doubted me. It’s normal, but there is a part of me that has always wanted to silence these detractors.
VSis really special as a situation. It’s hard to express what I feel.
I live the greatest moment of my career, and I have to face the greatest disappointment of my life. Such contradictory emotions.
I could search for a long time, wondering why this happened to me. I console myself by telling myself that I am champion of the MLS. But at the same time, there will always be frustration. I worked all my life for a World Cup and in my last match before my departure, my dream flew away.
I know that I am not the only one to miss the World Cup because of an injury.
I was more careful in training because I knew I had a month left. I had to manage my workload in preparation for the tournament. But in the matches, I gave myself 120%. I was going one day at a time, one encounter at a time. It was a risk worth taking and the worst happened.
It’s difficult. Looks like I don’t realize it yet.
It is certain that I will follow my teammates carefully. I’m going to wear my Canada shirt, I’m going to watch the games and I’m going to cheer them on. I am aware that it will plunge me back into my pain. I know the emotions will come back. The mourning is not done yet. Only time will fix things. I know, there is the World Cup in 2026, it is a goal. But for now, it’s too far. Too far to heal the wound.
To my teammates, I ask you to take advantage of this.
We started from nothing. There were these stays in Florida in times of COVID-19 and these long moments away from our families. There were these matches on the other side of the world on cricket grounds. And today we are at the World Cup. Guys, we’ve come so far!
Now we have quality. We have the power to believe in our group. Approach these matches with no regrets. Above all, have fun!
It hurts. I would so love to be there.
Without being there, know that I am with you.
Interview by Christine Roger
Header photo by Reuters/USA TODAY Sports/Jayne Kamin-Oncea