If Toronto FC can manage to turn around their fortunes when a new season begins on Saturday, they’ll do it without Torsten Frings.
The 36-year-old German defender announced his retirement on Tuesday after 18 years in the game, citing concerns stemming from a hip injury that required surgery last season. Frings, who joined Toronto as Designated Player in July 2011, left Toronto FC preseason camp in Florida earlier this month.
“During preseason we discovered that my recovery would take longer than expected,” Frings said in a statement. “I always want to do what’s best for the team and that is why I have decided to step away. I really enjoyed my time in Toronto and playing for Toronto FC. I wish the club all the best this season and hopefully they can continue to embrace the winning spirit that I brought to the team.”
Frings made 46 appearances across all competitions for the club, and was named the fourth captain in club history in August 2011. He appeared in 20 matches last season but was slowed initially by a groin injury suffered during the team’s run in the CONCACAF Champions League, and did not appear for the club after Aug. 22.
“Everyone is sorry that Torsten will be unable to lead our team this year but the injury he had often requires a lengthy period of rehab, and that is the case here,” Toronto FC president and general manager Kevin Payne said in a statement. “We appreciate Torsten’s commitment to Toronto FC and are pleased he has agreed to work with us, particularly in Europe, on future projects. We part as the best of friends and wish him nothing but the best.”
The Würselen native, earned 79 caps for Germany in his career and played in two FIFA World Cups including Germany’s run to the 2002 final. His club career spans 14 seasons in the German Bundesliga, starting and finishing at Werder Bremen along with Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich.
At Werder Bremen, Frings was part of the 2007-08 side that finished second in the Bundesliga and runners up in the 2009 UEFA Cup. He won two DFB-Pokal’s and one DFB-Ligapokal at Bremen. Frings also played in numerous UEFA Champions League matches throughout his club career in Germany.