Desiree Scott could have gone out on top, writing the final chapter in the story of her playing career as an Olympic champion.
Instead, the 34-year-old midfielder from Winnipeg is reconsidering her future after performing an integral role on Canada's road to the women's soccer gold medal in Tokyo just over two months ago.
"Obviously, retirement was on the brain but I've never been more confused is what I can say now," said Scott, during a Zoom call with reporters Monday afternoon. "I thought after the Olympics I was done but winning that gold medal (and) being away from the game for a year, it really re-ignited the flame for me and being a part of this team (helped me understand) how much I love it, how much of a family we are, how much I still love the sport.
"It's definitely given me some things to think about during this off-season... retirement is a question, but it's not a for sure right now."
Scott, a member of the national team since 2010, currently plays for Kansas City of the National Women's Soccer League.
She has returned to Canada to join her Olympic teammates for the start of an event dubbed the Women's National Team Celebration Tour. The Canadians are slated to play a pair of home friendlies against New Zealand — in Ottawa on Saturday and in Montreal on Oct. 26.
The Kiwis, in conjunction with the Australians, will co-host the Women's World Cup in 2023.
Scott is visualizing another World Cup appearance as well as a trip to the 2024 Paris Olympics before she calls it a career.
"That's a definite maybe," said Scott. "It's definitely on the radar. I'm still feeling good, feeling fit and loving it so, you know, if I can still be strong and part of this squad and (head coach) Bev (Priestman) sees that in me, it's definitely an option."
The quality of Scott's play was a testament to her will to forge ahead.
She spent most of 2020 away from the game — taking leave from her club team and the national program — when serious family issues arose at home in Winnipeg. In June, her mom, Charlene Gusberti, telephoned to say Desiree's 11-year-old foster brother, DeeJay, was about to be removed from the family home.
DeeJay had lived with Gusberti since he was two days old and had formed a close bond. She returned to Winnipeg to help organize the complex legal process to bring DeeJay home. After months of wrangling, Scott and Gusberti regained custody and eventually became DeeJay's legal guardians.
With those troubles finally behind her, Scott is thrilled to be playing on home soil again, something that hasn't happened since 2019.
"There's something different about wearing the Canada red in your home country and I know fans are going to be excited to get out and see us live," said Scott. "(We had) a lot of support from the last couple years and Tokyo this past summer but to be able to bring this home in front of our fans and really celebrate and feel... that support right in those stands is going to be incredible."
Scott made a memorable trip to back to Winnipeg immediately after the Olympics.
"I was home for two weeks, which was lucky, and just the little events that I got to attend were pretty special," she said. "And the way the city came out and showed (up) and celebrated myself and our team success — I'm still like pinching myself. It's been almost two months now since the gold. "It's like, 'You're a gold medallist,' and you see a sign... and every time you read that, it solidifies it that much more what we accomplished."
Deanna Rose, a teammate on the national side, said she depends on Scott's leadership.
"She's so positive," said Rose. "She's really the glue and the heart of this team and I think she's so underrated when it comes to that because not everyone sees what goes on in the environment."
Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.