Veteran Chicago Fire midfielder Pável Pardo has retired from professional soccer, the club announced Saturday.
The announcement comes days after Fire head coach Frank Klopas revealed Pardo was mulling his future in the game and marks the end of the former Mexican international's 19-year professional career.
“This was a very difficult decision, but after speaking with my family, I’ve decided that it is the right time to retire from professional soccer,” Pardo said in a club statement. “I’ve had the opportunity to play for world-class clubs and represent my country at the highest level. The journey has been an exciting one and I’m proud of the things I’ve accomplished along the way. Thank you to all of my teammates, coaches, clubs, family and most importantly my fans for supporting me for the last 19 years. I’m excited about the next phase of my career and look forward to being involved in soccer for many more years to come.”
The 36-year-old came to Chicago in the middle of the 2011 season and went on to make 41 regular-season appearances for the Men in Red, scoring two goals and adding nine assists.
“We want to thank Pável for his contributions as a member of the Fire,” Fire president of soccer operations Javier Leon said in a statement. “He was an integral part of our squad as we returned to the playoffs in 2012 and the leadership and experience that he brought to our locker room was tremendous. Pável has had an illustrious career for both club and country. We wish him all the best as he transitions into the next chapter of his life.”
Pardo started his career in 1993 with Mexican outfit Atlas, playing five years for the Guadalajara-based club, but enjoyed his best years in two stints with Mexico City giants Club América and with VfB Stuttgart in Germany, where he helped the team to the 2006-07 Bundesliga title.
At the international level, Pardo represented Mexico 148 times, second in El Tri's all-time apperance list to Claudio Suárez, and scored 11 goals in the process.
“It has been a truly great experience to have had Pável Pardo represent the Fire on-and-off-the-field,” said Fire owner Andrew Hauptman. “Pável’s character, leadership and integrity as an individual rival his passion, ability and skill on the field. Our club is honored to have been a part of Pável’s 19-year professional career. Pável will forever remain a member of the Fire family.”
Though Pardo's experience and leadership will be missed, his departure won't leave the Fire lacking in midfield options, having traded for both Joel Lindpere and Jeff Larentowicz in the offseason. The pair will join team captain Logan Pause and Daniel Paladini, among others, in the competition for places in the middle of the park.