Impact hero Sutton walks away after 14-year pro career

Canada national team goalkeeper Greg Sutton.

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MONTREAL – After more than 12,000 minutes spent on the field with the Impact and a career that dates back to the late 1990s, Greg Sutton is ready for a new chapter in his life.

The 36-year-old goalkeeper announced his retirement from the professional game last Friday after a 14-year career that took him to five MLS franchises. Drafted by the Chicago Fire in 1999, he became future coach Jesse Marsch’s roommate there before eventually representing New York (both the MetroStars and Red Bulls), Dallas, Toronto and Montreal.

Sutton has made a lasting impression on the latter city’s fans, and not just because of his imposing figure. He played six second-division seasons in Montreal from 2001 to 2006 and won a championship there in 2004. With his successful first stint with the Impact in mind (72 wins in 132 games), it made perfect sense for Sutton to finish his career with a Bleu-Blanc-Noir jersey.

“That’s the way [I hoped] I would retire,” a serene Sutton told reporters on Friday. “This year, I thought, would be a great opportunity to come back and be a part of this organization.”

Sutton finished with 12,333 minutes played with the Impact, but his last MLS season was largely spent on the bench or in the stands. His final stats will tell that he played only 24 of his 4,636 minutes in the North American first division with Montreal.

This, as well as back and knee soreness, helped Sutton make the crucial decision. Yet the veteran ‘keeper, who plans on remaining in the Montreal soccer community, was not tempted to ask his former roommate for a last hurrah on the pitch.

“He said that he just didn’t want to disturb anything that we were doing and that he knew it was important that we get a win [on Saturday],” Marsch said. “He’s a great man, and I appreciate that.”

Looking back, Sutton mentioned his 16 caps with the Canadian national team and the 2004 championship as definite highlights. And despite a rather calm final season, he walked off the Complexe sportif Claude-Robillard training field for the last time with his soul at peace.

“There were numerous times I've enjoyed myself here, and not necessarily in a game setting,” Sutton pointed out. “Off the field and on the practice pitch too. I’ve played with some great people, great players and there are some good people in the organization.”