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Kara Lang honoured for a stellar soccer career cut short by injury

07/15/2015 03:35 EDT | Updated 07/15/2016 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - Kara Lang was always ahead of her time so perhaps entering Canada's Soccer Hall of Fame at 28 is just par for the course.

It is an honour that undoubtedly she would have rather deferred if her body had let her.

Lang was just 15 when she debuted for Canada on March 1, 2002. Two days later, she and Christine Sinclair each scored twice in a 4-0 romp over Wales at the Algarve Cup.

Lang went on to win 92 caps and score 35 goals in a stellar soccer career that was cut short by serious knee injuries.

On Wednesday, Lang, Jim Brennan, and Pat Onstad were announced as the player inductees in Canada's Soccer Hall of Fame Class of 2015.

"I have to say I was definitely a little bit surprised, maybe just because in my mind my career was cut short," Lang said. "But nonetheless to be recognized for what I did while I was able to play is, of course, a huge honour.

"And very humbling too at the same time when you look at the names that are in that Hall of Fame, players that I looked up to my whole career and that I became quite close to as teammates like Andrea Neil and Charmaine Hooper. I definitely have always held them in a very special light so to be honoured alongside them is pretty special to me."

Lang also pointed to fellow TV analysts Jason deVos and Craig Forrest as well as former coach Ian Bridge, who are all also in the Hall.

Lang had a howitzer-like leg and knew how to use it. In 2006, she scored just four seconds into Canada's 3-2 win over host Mexico in a CONCACAF world under-20 qualifying tournament.

The knee injuries forced her to retire at 24 and prematurely ended a comeback attempt last year.

Lang was named an official ambassador for the recent Women's World Cup, during which she also continued her work an analyst for TSN.

Her new career in TV and now the Hall of Fame news are helping her turn the page on a premature exit from her sport.

"It all helps," she said. "I think the key to a successful and happy transition out of sport for any athlete is always to have another challenge kind of waiting for you. And I've been very fortunate that as soon as I wasn't able to play any more I had something to else focus on. And as athletes we're all very goal-oriented.

"It being something that doesn't come naturally to me and that I have to work on and that is a challenge every day that I'm doing it is I think the best possible way to kind of close that door and move forward. So I'm very grateful that I've had the opportunities I've had in broadcasting."

Lang, who makes her home in Los Angeles, has plenty to celebrate. She is expecting a baby Sept. 20.

Already in the Hall as part of the 2000 CONCACAF Gold Cup-winning team, Brennan will be inducted this fall in the player category. A left-sided midfielder and fullback who won 49 caps for Canada, Brennan was a feisty player with a good motor who left for England as a 17-year-old.

He played for Bristol City, Nottingham Forest, Norwich City and Southampton with Forest paying 1.25 million pounds (C$2.5 million) for him in October 1999, a record for a Canadian at the time. He helped Norwich win promotion to the Premier League.

He came home to become Toronto FC's first player and captain before working with the MLS team as an assistant coach and in its academy and front office. Today he is executive director of the Aurora Youth Soccer Club.

Onstad played 58 times for Canada with 21 shutouts and had a 25-year pro career that took him to Canada, Scotland and the United States. A three-time MLS Cup champion, he also won the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year Award twice.

Onstad currently is an assistant coach with the Columbus Crew.

The Canadian women's CONCACAF champion team of 1998 enters the Hall as the 2015 team of distinction.

Administrators Jim Hubay and the late John Kerr, who also played for Canada, enter the Hall in the builder category. Kerr, who played 10 times for Canada, helped organize and lead the North American Soccer League Player Union.

George Anderson, who played for Canada in the 1920s, has been selected in the pioneer category.

Montreal Carsteel, a dominant team before and after the Second World War, has been chosen as an "Organization of Distinction."

The induction ceremony is scheduled for Nov. 8 in Vaughan, Ont.

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