Justin Morrow is a Toronto FC legend, a player who loves his city and his team. So when sitting at a press conference Friday after announcing his retirement at the end of the 2021 season, he reflected on his eight years with the club – and fielded questions with honestly.
Morrow spent the first four years of his career with the San Jose Earthquakes. He won the starter's role during his third year, helping the Quakes lift the Supporters' Shield. After the 2013 season, he was told he was being traded to Toronto, a struggling club that failed to make the playoffs in each of their first eight seasons upon entering MLS in 2007.
He wasn't exactly thrilled. The timing wasn't ideal, with Morrow being informed of the trade merely days before his wedding. He stressed over telling his soon-to-be wife that they'd be moving.
“I was afraid," Morrow told media on a virtual press conference. "I was afraid for my career but it’s been the biggest blessing of my life to be traded here. To be in this city, to be a part of this club and go through everything we’ve gone through. It’s been a dream come true.”
Things worked out, which is why he can look back and laugh at those first impressions.
Morrow is second in club history with 246 matches played across all competitions, an integral part of winning five trophies over his eight seasons (one MLS Cup, one Supporters' Shield and three Canadian Championships).
Off the field, Morrow was named executive director of Black Players for Change (BPC) following the organization’s launch on June 19, 2020. BPC received the 2020 MLS WORKS Humanitarian of the Year award. He has big plans for his post-playing career as he nears his 34th birthday.
“I came to this decision knowing my light is starting to shine brighter off the field than on it right now, and that comes with a lot of joy," the left back said. "I do know that I want to make this world a better place, but I haven’t decided which way is the best way to do that yet. Maybe it’s politics, maybe it’s a non-profit, maybe it’s running a big company."
First, he'd like to remain with Toronto FC in some capacity after hanging up his boots.
"I know I want to start with helping this club win, I know I want to stay," Morrow said. "This club means so much for me. We’ve had positive conversations, so hopefully it works out and I get to stay.”
Toronto have 10 matches remaining in their 2021 campaign, sitting bottom of the overall league table. They also have the Canadian Championship in front of them, with Morrow looking to enjoy the last stretch of his career.
“I’ll miss the camaraderie in the locker room, being with the guys," Morrow said. "Going through the good times and the bad. There’s just nothing like it I’ve experienced. I’ll miss playing at BMO Field in front of our wonderful fans. I still think it’s the best place in MLS to watch a football match.”