Coaches, teammates on Clint Dempsey's legacy: "Amazing career. Amazing person."
SEATTLE -- Seattle Sounders FC star Clint Dempsey announced Wednesday that he’s retiring from professional soccer.
"After a lot of thought, my family and I have decided that this is the right time for me to step away from the game," Dempsey said in a statement released by the Sounders.
Several of Dempsey’s coaches and teammates told reporters after Wednesday's team practice in Tukwila that Dempsey is one of the best players to ever put on a uniform in the U.S.
He’s simply been that good.
"Amazing career. Amazing person. He’s done a lot for the country, for the club. So, happy to play with him," said teammate Ozzie Alonso.
"He’s the reason why a lot of us Americans are playing the sport," added midfielder Cristian Roldan. "He never wanted to lose. And that’s something that will carry with me. That attitude was fantastic and you need that one, two guys on the team that have that attitude."
The game brought Dempsey to Seattle in 2013.
The sounders immediately saw success.
"For me, the results are there. A pile of trophies, a pile of wins, individual accolades for Clint, but it’s been about the team," said Sounders FC Owner Adrian Hanauer. "He’s done the business on the field for this club, but I’m a team guy. Clint’s a team guy. So for me, it’s been all about helping us win championships, helping us be relevant in the community, helping us do amazing things in the community."
Dempsey helped the Sounders capture its only Supporters Shield in 2014, a U.S. Open Cup, the MLS Cup, and a Western Conference title.
He spent 7 years with the English Premier League and scored 57 goals for the U.S. Men’s National Team – tied for the most all time.
But injuries and a heart condition in recent years have impacted his playing time.
Sounders FC Head Coach Brian Schmetzer said Dempsey’s creativity and flare always stood out.
"He always was a team guy. That’s always what’s been important to me," Schmetzer said. "In some ways, it’s a little bit of a sad day ‘cause we won’t be able to see him play, but at the same time – you can use this day as a celebration for some of the great things he’s accomplished in his career."
Dempsey said it was his dream to make it as a pro, and he’s grateful to have been on this incredible ride.
In the statement released by the Sounders, Dempsey thanked the fans that supported him throughout his career.
"Y'all have always made me feel at home, and it is something that I will always remember," Dempsey said.
"Fantastic in the locker room. Brave on the field. He was that one guy that showed that grit, that passion in somewhat of a malice way. And for that reason, he’s been successful," Roldan told reporters.
Plans are underway to honor Dempsey before the Sounders match against Sporting Kansas City on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 1 P.M. at CenturyLink Field.