FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The moment of clarity arrived for Ousmane Dabo after he took the field as second-half substitute in Wednesday's 4-1 friendly defeat to Manchester United.
Dabo wanted to use the match to continue his recovery from a lingering quadriceps injury, but he instead tweaked his knee during his 25-minute spell on the field. The knock marked the latest setback in an injury-riddled campaign and prompted Dabo to assess whether he should attempt to prolong his increasingly futile battle against his body.
In the following days, the 34-year-old decided to call time on a lengthy career that has seen him collect three French caps and feature for prominent European clubs AS Monaco, Inter Milan, Lazio and Manchester City.
“It's a tough decision,” Dabo told MLSsoccer.com after announcing his retirement on Monday morning. “I've been playing football all of my life, since I was a little boy. It's always been my occupation. It's a tough decision, but I think it is the right one to do at this time of my life. I got so many injuries lately. My body wouldn't let me play like I would or I can. It's better to say stop, do something else and release the Revs from my contract so they can get another player.”
Revolution vice president of player personnel Michael Burns lauded Dabo's contribution to the team and his professionalism during his spell with the Revs, but also lamented that the holding midfielder couldn't play more regularly after showing flashes of his quality when he did take the field.
“We know this was not easy for Ousmane, but we respect the decision he's made,” Burns said as part of a statement issued by the team. “He is a true professional and provided leadership to our team this year when he was on the field. He’s had a terrific career, and we wish him all the best in whatever venture he chooses next.”
Dabo shared those same frustrations after he made just three league appearances during his half of a season with the Revolution.
“[It was] so frustrating,” Dabo said. “I was so happy to come here to discover a new football and a new country. But after the opportunity, I only made two games, three games and I wasn't even at 60 percent. It was so frustrating. I wanted to help the guys, even at training, to share my experience with the young players. I do not have so many regrets because I tried to [play], but my body just wouldn't let me do it.”
It is a fight Dabo decided to conclude gracefully as the Revs seek to retool during the second half of the campaign. He said he isn't quite sure yet what the future holds for him, but he knows that he is ready to start the next chapter of his life.
“It's been 16 years I've been playing, so I will have some holidays,” Dabo said. “I have some ideas. I will see my family and my friends that I never see. It will be a new life.”