Clint Dempsey leaves the professional soccer field with his head held high.
The Seattle Sounders and United States men’s national team forward announced Wednesday in a statement he’s retiring with immediate effect at age 35. Dempsey ends his 15-year career as undoubtedly one of the greatest players in U.S. men’s soccer history.
“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. “I’d like to thank all of the teammates, coaches and support staff that I’ve worked with throughout my career. It has always been my dream to make it as a pro. I’m grateful to have been on this ride. I would like to thank all of the fans who have supported me throughout my career with the New England Revolution, Fulham, Tottenham, Seattle Sounders and the U.S. Men’s National Team. Y’all have always made me feel at home, and it is something that I will always remember.”
Dempsey is the USMNT’s joint all-time leading scorer, joining Landon Donovan atop the list with 57 goals. Dempsey’s 141 appearances and 21 assists are third in USMNT history, and he also is the first American to score in three FIFA World Cups (2006, 2010 and 2014).
The New England Revolution drafted Dempsey in 2004, and he went on to win the MLS Rookie of the Year Award that season. He went on to play a key role on Revolution teams that reached MLS Cup between 2005 and 2007.
The Revolution sold Dempsey to Fulham in 2007. He would play the next six years with the Premier League club, scoring 60 goals in 220 games and setting a new standard of excellence for United States outfield players in England’s top flight.
Dempsey joined the Sounders in 2013, with his stateside return representing a landmark moment in MLS history. Dempsey was instrumental in the Sounders’ 2014 U.S. Open Cup and Supporters Shield triumphs. He helped the team position itself for the MLS Cup playoffs in 2016 but had to leave the team three-plus months prior to their eventual triumph due to an irregular heartbeat. He returned the next year and helped the Sounders return to the MLS Cup final, where they fell to Toronto FC.
“I know many were inspired by Clint’s resolve in returning to the field last season from a major health issue, and that character is something I’ll remember most about him,” Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer said. “Clint is a fighter, and he’ll always be a Sounder. We thank him for all he’s done for our sport.”
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images