A lot has changed in the five seasons since the Canadian Premier League's inaugural campaign. There have been new formats, clubs, rules and players since the opening match on April 27, 2019. But one constant has been a group of players who will forever be recognized as the league's trailblazers -- those who have been there since the very beginning and five years later are still leaders within the league. "There will be players, and I've talked about this since year one and we are starting to see that, who will be lifers," said Forge FC head coach Bobby Smyrniotis ahead of the 2023 CPL Final. "They are probably going to be the most important players to this league because they are going to keep the quality up. Others will come in, play for a year or two, and retire. Others will play for two, three years and move on. It's that middle group that always is the consistency of a club, and it's the consistency of the league." That group of players plays a key role not only on the pitch in augmenting the quality of the product but also off the pitch in giving fans consistent and recognizable names and faces to cheer on year after year. Here is a look at ten players who have played in all five Canadian Premier League seasons and remained key players in the league's fifth campaign:

Alexander Achinioti-Jönsson - Forge FC​

One of the league's true Europe to CPL success stories, the Swedish-born 27-year-old joined Forge ahead of its inaugural season and has been one of the club's most important players ever since. He was the first international player to make 100 appearances for a CPL club, and has started all five CPL finals. Last season, he transitioned seamlessly from the midfield to play as a central defender, showing his incredible adaptability as a player, and thrived so much that he won the 2022 CPL Defender of the Year award. An outstanding ball-playing central defender with the tactical flexibility to shift into midfield when needed, Achinioti-Jönsson played the fourth most successful passes in the league this past season (1,327), was among the league leaders in successful long passes, and had a solid 87.42 per cent completion rate.

Manny Aparicio - Pacific FC​

Aparicio captained York9 in the league's inaugural match, a 1-1 draw where he also unfortunately earned the dubious record of becoming the first CPL player to be sent off. Things have unquestionably improved from there, however, as the 28-year-old has developed into one of the top players in the league. After a pair of seasons with the Nine Stripes, Aparicio switched coasts, joining Pacific FC ahead of the 2021 season. With the Tridents he won the 2021 CPL Final, while also appearing in the club's first-ever Concacaf fixtures. In 2023, his third season on the Island, he was again a force for Pacific, finishing with four goals and five assists. He was also nominated for the league's Player of the Year award for the second straight campaign.

Kyle Bekker - Forge FC​

As the day-one captain of the league's most successful club, Bekker has been a key trailblazer for the Canadian Premier League since its inaugural season. He was the first player in league history to play 100 matches for a CPL club. He has captained his side in four of the league's five finals, and countless matches in Concacaf competition. In his fifth season in the league, at 33, Bekker remains one of its best players. He was among the nominees for the league's Player of the Year award, and finished second in voting for the 2023 Players' Player of the Year award. He also finished second in the league in assists (7), and tied for the league lead in chances created (51).

Sergio Camargo - Cavalry FC​

Like Bekker, Camargo was one of the inaugural crop of signings in league history, joining now-coach Nik Ledgerwood as the first players to put pen to paper for Cavalry, back in 2018. While injuries, especially in 2020 and 2022, have significantly limited his availability over the years, he has been with the club for all five of their seasons. In his fifth season, Camargo was a key player in the Calgary side lifting the CPL Shield as 2023 regular season champions. He scored six goals and added two assists as a central cog in the league's best attack. Camargo's talent was also recognized by his peers, as he finished 12th in voting for the 2023 Players' Player of the Year.

Terran Campbell - Forge FC​

The league's all-time leading goalscorer, Campbell has been finding the back consistently since scoring 11 goals in the Canadian Premier League's inaugural season. Having spent his first three CPL campaigns on the Island, Campbell won his first CPL championship with Pacific FC in 2021, before switching to Forge that off-season. He has since won two more with the Hamilton side. He remains one of the lethal players in the league, finishing tied for second in the league's Golden Boot race this year with 10 goals. Campbell was also tied for eighth in the league in voting for Players' Player of the Year. He also scored his first CPL hat trick this season, on July 9 against York United.

Marco Carducci - Cavalry FC​

Since the league's inaugural season, the Calgary native has been consistently recognized as one of the league's best goalkeepers. The 2020 Island Games were the only CPL season in which Carducci was not either nominated for, or won, the league's Golden Glove award, which he did again in 2022. Carducci became the first active CPL player to be called up by the Canadian men's national team in 2019. He helped Cavalry reach the final that year, and this past season. In 2023, Carducci played every single minute for Cavalry in their CPL Shield winning campaign as regular season champions. That earned him yet another nomination for the league's Golden Glove award.

Triston Henry - Forge FC​

In his fifth season in net with Forge FC, Triston Henry had arguably the best campaign of his career this past year, winning his fourth playoff title and second Golden Glove award as the league's best goalkeeper. Henry started the league's inaugural match on April 27, 2019 at Tim Hortons Field and hasn't looked back since, leading all CPL goalkeepers in terms of clean sheets kept and appearances made. Henry has started all five CPL finals, and has kept clean sheets in three of them (including both legs of the inaugural 2019 final). He again led the league in clean sheets, with nine, during the 2023 season.

Nathan Ingham - Atlético Ottawa​

The goalkeeper opposite Henry in the league's inaugural match, Ingham spent three seasons with York before joining Atlético Ottawa ahead of the 2022 season. The Keswick, Ontario native had a fantastic first season with Atleti, backstopping them to a 2022 regular season championship, and a spot in the 2022 CPL Final. He finished the season as a nominee for the Golden Glove award, his second nomination after being recognized in 2019 for his work with York9. Ingham recently announced that he had signed a new two-year deal in the nation's capital. While 2023 didn't exactly go to play for Ottawa, the 30-year-old Ingham was still among the best in the league at his position, winning the league's Goalkeeper of the Month award for August.

Andre Rampersad - Halifax Wanderers​

'Rampy' has become a household name out on the East Coast as the lone player from the Halifax Wanderers' inaugural season who still plays for the club. Rampersad has worn the captain's armband for most of his tenure with Halifax. something he has continued to do since Patrice Gheisar took over the club ahead of this season. He also became the first player to play 100 matches for the Halifax Wanderers this past season. This year he helped Halifax to the best regular season finish in club history. His performances have earned him consistent call-ups to the Trinidad and Tobago men's national team.

Elliot Simmons - Vancouver FC​

In his fifth season in the Canadian Premier League, playing for his third team, Simmons instantly became one of the most important players for the expansion Vancouver FC. The 25-year-old midfielder from Luton, England played 13 times for Halifax in the league's inaugural season and subsequently spent three seasons with Cavalry before joining Vancouver ahead of their first season as a club, 2023. Simmons was a mainstay in midfield for Vancouver this season, making 25 appearances and finishing fourth on the club in minutes played (1832). He led Vancouver in recoveries with 123.

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