Landon Donovan’s surprise retirement announcement on Thursday drew a rare emotional response from Donovan’s longtime head coach Bruce Arena, bringing the LA Galaxy manager to tears when he discussed Donovan’s pursuit of happiness throughout his career.
Arena has coached Donovan with the Galaxy since midway through the 2008 season, but was also the head coach who gave a 20-year-old Donovan his shot with the United States during the 2002 World Cup. He was also there when Donovan struggled to make his mark during the 2006 World Cup in Germany, a tournament that Donovan has said nearly led to his retirement eight years ago.
Arena became emotional during Donovan’s official press conference at StubHub Center earlier in the day and then teared up when asked by Time Warner Cable SportsNet reporter Kelli Tennant about his relationship with Donovan after so many years spent together.
“It’s really hard to respond to that,” Arena said, before taking a long pause. “There are people in our lives that make a difference, and he has as a player, and as a person. I’ve seen him as a young kid, now I see him as a man, seeing him at the end of a career. It’s unbelievably ironic that I’ve seen him as a baby in this sport and now a man that’s leaving.
“To see the joy he had today and also to witness the suffering he’s experienced throughout his career … to see that range of emotions and now to see that he’s happy again, it’s emotional to me.”
Watch the entire video above. Arena's response above begins at the 2:29 mark.