After more than 400 senior club appearances, there's just one more matchday left for Nedum Onouha.
The veteran center back recently announced his plans to retire following Real Salt Lake's Decision Day clash with Sporting KC on Sunday after little more than two seasons with the club. RSL's season will end after the match as they were eliminated from playoff contention.
Onouha, who turns 34 years old on Thursday, was a regular on the pitch during his time in Utah and was regarded in the highest honor by those around the club for his character, leadership and knowledge.
“It’s strange," Onuoha told reporters on a virtual press conference about preparing for his final game. "I’ve been thinking in the past six months I was wondering how I’d feel and now that it's here, it’s difficult to describe. Just knowing there’s nothing after this game, that’s tough. But the mentality is to try to enjoy it and I think I will.”
“Nedum has meant a whole lot to this club," head coach Freddy Juarez added. "He’s a very good human being, a great teammate. ... Massive player. In a short amount of time, he made a big difference.”
Onuoha made 43 appearances with RSL. He started his career in 2004 with Manchester City then featured a season for Sunderland before a long stint with QPR.
His experience was key for a young team, particularly talented young center back Justen Glad.
“Nedum was a huge addition to our team, he brought so much as a person and as a player," Glad said. "I enjoyed every moment with him. He’s a leader, he led by example. He’s eloquent and thoughtful. Having that type of role model in the locker room was massive and his play on the field speaks for itself.”
Glad, 23, was one of Onuoha's regular partners in defense over the last two seasons. The talented homegrown originally signed his first professional contract back in 2014 and has been a key part of the team's defense for the last five season.
Glad is expected back in 2021 but revealed he has one final contract option next season before his contract expires after the 2021 campaign. As for 2021, though, Glad believes the club have the personnel in place in GM Elliott Fall and assistant GM Tony Beltran to get back to the playoffs.
“I have complete faith in Elliott and Tony that they’re going to make the right signings and help our team improve," Glad said. "Going forward, I’m sure we’re going to be better.”