Martin Zúñiga named Chivas USA's Soccer Ambassador
CARSON, Calif. - After 12-year career spanning seven clubs and two countries, Chivas USA goalkeeper Martín Zúñiga today officially announced his retirement from professional soccer to assume his new responsibilities as Chivas USA's Soccer Ambassador. The announcement was made by Zúñiga and Chivas USA Senior Vice President and General Manager Whit Haskel at an afternoon media luncheon at The Home Depot Center. Also present was former goalkeeper Pedro Prieto, Zúñiga's onetime teammate (2000-2001) at Mexican First Division side Tecos of the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara.
"Although we are sad to announce the retirement of a great professional and hero of Chivas such as Martín Zúñiga, we are proud that we will remain within the institution in a position that will keep him very close to our fans, to our community and to the press," said Haskel.
In his new position as Soccer Ambassador, Zúñiga will represent Chivas USA on a number of fronts: as an instructor in the Club's Academy, as a scout for the team's youth development programs, and as a spokesperson for the team in various community and sponsor events.
"I am sorry to leave behind my professional career, and all the joy that this sport has given me. But at the same time I am honored to be given the opportunity to continue to representing Chivas USA and the Chivas family. As I always did on the field, in my new role I shall give my all for this institution," said Zúñiga.
Zúñiga, who led Chivas Guadalajara to its record tenth Mexican league title in 1997, arrived at Chivas USA as one of the Major League Soccer expansion franchise's most recognizable players. However, the 35-year-old saw his participation limited due to a left-knee ACL tear suffered on March 3, 2005, in a scrimmage against the U.S. Men's National Team. Zúñiga had been presented as a Chivas USA player on February 17, 2005.
After recovering from surgery, Zúñiga he saw action in four games during the MLS regular season, all as a starter, amassing 360 minutes on the playing field, facing 32 shots and making 18 saves before re-injuring his left ACL again in July 2005. On August 20, Zúñiga was officially added to Chivas USA's season-ending injury list and was replaced by goalkeeper Sergio García as a season-ending injury replacement.
Born in Tampico, Tamaulipas, Mexico, on August 6, 1970, Zúñiga enjoyed a decorated 12-year professional career which saw him represent the Mexican National Team as well as six Mexican First Division clubs: Tigres, Celaya, Veracruz, Puebla, Tecos, and Chivas, where he led Guadalajara to its record tenth Mexican league championship with a resounding 7-2 aggregate victory over Toros Neza.