Richard Hastings thought he’d get a call to Canada Soccer 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, lined up with Canadian 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.
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 inductees into the Hall of Fame.
Hastings, 45, will be honored on March 28 at the men’s CONCACAF Nations League game against Honduras in Toronto. Moscato, 38, will be introduced before a future women’s national team match.
While primarily a defender, Hastings is best remembered for scoring the winning goal against powerhouse Mexico in the 2000 Gold Cup quarter-final in San Diego.
At the time, the Mexicans were first in CONCACAF and 10th in the world. Canada was ninth in the region and 85th in the world.
The Canadians had just three wins in their previous 22 meetings with Mexico (3-13-6) and were outscored 52-14.
So the odds were against Canada that day in 2000 at Qualcomm Stadium. And it looked business as usual when Ramon Ramirez put the Mexicans ahead in the 35th minute.
But Carlo Corazzin headed home Martin Nash’s cross in the 83rd minute and, after 90 minutes of regulation, the game went to sudden death.
The ball reached Hastings outside the penalty area. Without breaking stride, he used his right thigh to redirect the ball in front of him. And when he caught the ball, it went past goalkeeper Oscar Perez.
Canada went on to beat Trinidad and Tobago 1-0 in the Gold Cup semi-final and Colombia 2-0 in the final to complete an improbable tournament run that required winning a coin over South Korea just to reach the knockout rounds.
Hastings was named the tournament’s top rookie. Corazzin won leading scorer honors, deVos the Fair Play Award and Forrest was named tournament MVP.
A 22-year-old Hastings came off the bench in Canada’s tournament opener against Costa Rica to replace injured defender Paul Fenwick. Canada coach Holger Osiek then threw a curveball at Hastings before the next play.
“He said I’d start, which I was happy about. But then he said I’d play in central midfield,” Hastings recalled. “I was amazed. I had to make it clear to him. I said ‘That’s great Holger. But you do realize I’ve never played centre-half?’ And he said ‘Oh, you’ll be fine.’
“He had confidence in me, in what he saw in me. For the tournament to have gone the way it did, I could never have dreamed it would,” added Hastings.
He played midfield the rest of the tournament in Osieck’s 3-5-2 formation on a Gold Cup team that has since been recognized as the Canada Soccer Team of Distinction.
It’s a lesson Hastings has learned in his own coaching career, empowering players to “go and do a job that maybe they didn’t think they could do.”
Impressed with the current Canadian men’s team
As proud as he is of the highlight-reel strike against Mexico, his only major international career goal, Hastings is just as proud of winning 59 caps (including 54 starts) from 1998-2010.
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 Highland League side Inverurie Loco Works FC from Inverurie, who were relegated at the end of January. He had taken over the semi-pro club in the summer of 2021.
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He previously served as Inverness Under-17s and Ross County Under-18s academy manager.
Hastings came into the 2000 Gold Cup by helping Inverness upset Celtic 3-1 in the third round of the Scottish Cup at Celtic Park.
Born in Prince George, BC, to parents of English descent, Hastings was seven when the family returned to England and 12 when they moved to Scotland.
Now a father of three with two boys playing youth level football at local clubs, Hastings spent a few years in Canada after retiring as a player before returning to Scotland where he makes his home in Inverness.
He has been remotely impressed with the current Canadian team.
“I think it’s going to open the door for a lot more young Canadian players to meet [to Europe]. Because now Canadians are taken a little more seriously for their World Cup appearance,” he said. “I see that as a huge package.”