Remembering historic goal by Brampton goalkeeper Quillan Roberts at 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup
Published November 9, 2023 at 11:40 am
Canada, which opens play Friday against Spain at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Indonesia, has scored just 10 goals in its previous seven trips to the youth showcase.
But one of those made history when Brampton goalkeeper Quillan Roberts booted his way into the record books against England.
On June 22, 2011, Roberts hammered a clearance from just inside his side of the halfway line with time winding down and Canada trailing 2-1 in Pachuca, Mexico.
Then a 16-year-old Toronto FC academy ‘keeper, Roberts bounced the ball over a pair of players trying to get their head to it, landed just inside the English penalty box and bounced into the goal over lunging ‘keeper Jordan Pickford.
“How it happened was a bit of a surprise for all of us,” Canadian coach Sean Fleming at the time, by way of understatement.
The 87th-minute goal gave Canada a 2-2 tie and its first-ever point at the under-17 tournament after 13 straight losses. It also marked the first goal scored by a goalkeeper in any FIFA 11-a-side finals competition.
FIFA called it historic. England’s Football Association was less charitable, labelling it a “a freak clearance-cum-shot” in its game report.
The Brampton goalkeeper only got the start after No. 1 netminder Maxime Crepeau, now the starting ‘keeper for Los Angeles FC, suffered a knee injury in the 89th minute of Canada’s opening 3-0 loss to Uruguay. Roberts replaced him, giving up a stoppage-time goal.
Roberts did not find out he was starting against England until the day of the game.
England, whose roster included current Chelsea star Raheem Sterling, appeared destined to win on the strength of substitute Blair Turgott’s 77th-minute goal.
But then Roberts took over. Taking a back pass from a teammate, Roberts emerged from his penalty box and kept going as no one, to his surprise, came forward to close him down.
Roberts who was set to enter Grade 12 that fall, was probably 10 yards inside his own half when he booted the ball.
“They left me alone and just allowed me to come up as far as I wanted,” he said at the time. “I was surprised because earlier in the game I had taken a touch or two out (of the box) and they pressured me, so I wasn’t to sure what they were thinking. And I just kept coming up.”
The clearance upfield did not come with expectations, however.
“Definitely not. I thought I was just going to aim for our target player, Sadi Jalali and hope for the best.”
Roberts got the shutout in Canada’s ensuing 0-0 draw with Rwanda. But the young Canadians went home after finishing third in their group.
The Canadian team at the tournament also included Samuel Piette, now with CF Montreal, and former Toronto FC midfielder Jay Chapman, now with the USL Championship’s Colorado Springs Switchbacks.
After graduating from the Toronto academy in 2012, Roberts spent four years with the TFC first team, split 2017 between York University and the Woodbridge Strikers in League1 Ontario and 2018 with LAFC.
While he did not see any MLS action with TFC and LAFC, he was the backup ‘keeper when Toronto won the Canadian Championship in 2012 and 2016. He subsequently found a home in the Canadian Premier League and was part of Forge FC’s first championship side in 2019.
Roberts had stints in League1 Ontario with 1812 FC Barrie and Electric City FC before moving to New Zealand to play for Western Suburbs in the Central League
Roberts won one senior cap for Canada, replacing Milan Borjan in the 87th minute of a 3-0 friendly win over Puerto Rico in March 2015. In 2019, he switched his allegiance to Guyana, where his father was born.
Today, Pickford plays for Everton in England’s Premier League, joining from Sunderland in 2017 for a transfer fee of 30 million pounds ($50.7 million), which was a British record for a goalkeeper at the time.
Pickford has recorded 23 clean sheets in 56 appearances for the English senior side. Now 29, he reportedly makes $11 million a year with Everton.
Canadian Goals at FIFA U-17 World Cup
1987: Guido Titotto in 2-1 loss to Qatar.
1989: Argentine own goal in 4-1 loss to Argentina.
1995: Patrice Bernier in 2-1 loss to Oman.
2011: Sadi Jalali and Quillan Roberts in 2-2 draw with England.
2013: Jordan Hamilton and Elias Roubos (penalty kick) in 2-2 draw with Austria. Hamilton in 1-1 tie with Iran.
2019: Jacen Russell-Rowe in 4-1 loss to Brazil and 2-1 loss to Angola.insauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising