Chicago Fire defender Arne Friedrich announces retirement from professional soccer

Arne Friedrich, Chicago Fire

Photo Credit: 
USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Fire defender Arne Friedrich is calling it a career.

The former German international and veteran of two World Cups announced the decision on Sunday morning via Twitter and confirmed the termination of his contract with the Fire.

Friedrich, who has not made an appearance for the MLS club since preseason, spent most of 2013 working his way back from hamstring and hip injuries which required two trips to Germany for rehabilitation. On his personal web site, he indicated that injuries played a key part in his decision to call it quits.

"After much consideration and consultation with my doctors and physical therapists I have decided to finish my professional soccer career," Friedrich wrote. "The last couple of weeks and month I have been suffering from increasing back pain. With two herniated discs in my lower back, I am no longer able to fulfill the demands of a professional soccer player. For this reason, I have asked the Chicago Fire to terminate my contract."

Touchline TV: Arne Friedrich

It was two slipped discs in his back that forced Friedrich to terminate his contract with German Bundesliga side Wolfsburg in 2011. After considering retirement, Friedrich rehabbed and signed with the Fire in March 2012.

The 34-year-old proved an important cog in Chicago's run to the postseason last year, forming a formidable center back pairing with eventual MLS Rookie of the Year Austin Berry and earning himself the club's Defender of the Year award. He played a total of 23 matches without significant injury.

But after re-signing with the Fire for another season in November 2012, Friedrich wouldn't play another game with the club. He suffered a hamstring injury before the Fire's season opener, and he injured his hip when he was on the verge of returning in April.

Friedrich's prolonged absence led to the Fire's acquisition of experienced centerback Bakary Soumaré from the Philadelphia Union. Soumaré has since become the regular starting center back alongside Berry.

I have decided to end my fantastic career and as of today terminate my contract with Chicago Fire. #thankful http://t.co/U0XbjGFRd6

Pending his treatment, the club announced that it expects to honor Friedrich later this summer.

“It was a fantastic time with unbelievably great experience," Friedrich wrote on his personal site. "I have made many friends in America in Chicago and found a kind of second home. For me the time has come to usher in a new phase of life. But first I'm going to focus entirely on my health.”

Anthony Zilis covers the Chicago Fire for MLSsoccer.com.