Paul Stalteri, Canada’s most-capped player, has decided to call it a career.
Despite having not played a game professionally, or for Canada, for almost two years, Stalteri finally made his retirement official Wednesday afternoon in a conference call with the media.
“I was fortunate enough throughout the time to play in some of the best leagues in the world,” Stalteri said on the call. “It’s a sad day in once sense but I know things have already started to come my way and things will continue to come my way in a new beginning.”
The 35-year old Stalteri had been without a club since 2011 after going through a pair of hip surgeries, but decided now was the time to step aside. His last game for Canada was a 2-2 draw against Ukraine in Oct. 2010.
Stalteri wore the captain's armband on 30 occasions over an illustrious international career that saw him earn 84 caps and score seven goals for his country.
A member of the Canadian team that famously won the 2000 Gold Cup, beating the likes of Mexico and Colombia along the way, Stalteri called that victory best moment of his international career.
“It was probably one of our greatest achievements as the men’s team to win our major tournament,” said Stalteri. “Definitely that remains a high for me without a doubt.”
He started his pro career with the Toronto Lynx before heading over to Werder Bremen in Germany in 1998. When Stalteri made his debut for Bundesliga-side Werder Bremen in 2000, fellow Canadian Kevin McKenna was on the other side of the field for Energie Cottbus. They were the first two Canadians to play in Germany’s top league.
Stalteri would go on to win the league and cup double with Bremen in the 2003-04 season. He was the first Canadian to be part of a Bundesliga-winning team but more than anything, he’s glad to see how Canadians now figure in many of the world’s biggest leagues.
“Back then it was very difficult,” Stalteri said. “Things have definitely changed. Canadians are definitely getting noticed my more by clubs.”
In his time away, Stalteri has already started coaching youth teams and has been going through the coaching certification process.