MONTREAL – The Marco Di Vaio Farewell Tour is underway. Officially, that is.
Because, truth be told, it never felt like Di Vaio, the family man par excellence, would be in North America in 2015. The twinkle in his eyes when he spoke of his wife and daughters on the few occasions they visited him this year spoiled the end of this story.
As early as last March, Di Vaio was telling Montreal newspaper La Presse that 2014 would be “my last year if the family can’t come here.” Di Vaio confirmed on Friday that with his family still back home in his native Italy, he’ll leave his career in MLS behind at the end of the 2014 season.
His final game will be at home against D.C. United on Oct. 25, and Di Vaio’s family will be in attendance.
“On the 25th, it's the last game,” Di Vaio told reporters. “I’ll go back to Italy and start a new life. We’ll see. I don’t know what’s coming for me in Italy, but I want to make the most of those last moments and contribute on the field. … Right now, I’m not thinking about what’s going to happen after the 25th.”
A last hurrah in the Italian league wasn’t an option, according to Di Vaio, who made the announcement next to emotional Impact owner Joey Saputo on Friday. He does wish to remain in the soccer world, but won’t rush anything – as was the case with his retirement announcement, which Di Vaio said he could have delayed even further had he not been suspended for the Oct. 22 CONCACAF Champions League game in New York.
Di Vaio had a last meeting on his future this Thursday with Saputo, who will be severing ties with the player, but not with the man he called a friend.
“Marco will be a very important ally for us to develop Canadian and Québécois soccer,” Saputo said. “He’ll be an ambassador. He knows the club, the city, the North American style of play. He can be relied on to advise us on other players in the future.”
Di Vaio is keen to help.
“This is the future. MLS is the future of soccer,” Di Vaio said. “I’m sure that in the next few years, a lot of great players will come to play in MLS. We are ready to be one of the best leagues in the world.”
The use of ‘we’ says it all: Di Vaio ended his 22-season career by making MLS his playground, scoring 31 league goals in 72 games for Montreal. His run for the MLS Budweiser Golden Boot throughout the 2013 season fascinated the city; only Camilo and Mike Magee scored more than Di Vaio’s 20 goals, and he set a single-season franchise scoring mark that will be tough to break.
But other memories will remain as well.
“We won two Canadian Cups. We made the playoffs [last year]. We made it to the quarterfinals of the Champions League. We’re one of the best eight teams in CONCACAF. So I’m really happy with what I’ve done,” Di Vaio said.
“Everything we asked of Marco,” Saputo added, “has been delivered.”
Olivier Tremblay covers the Montreal Impact for MLSsoccer.com.