Canada's all-time appearances leader has decided to hang up his cleats.
Julian de Guzman, a pioneer in Canadian soccer and a former player in MLS for Toronto FC and FC Dallas, announced his retirement from playing on Monday. De Guzman, who played the last two years for the Ottawa Fury, will now transition to become an assistant coach and assistant general manager for the USL side.
A Toronto native, de Guzman was spotted by French giants Olympique Marseille as a youth player and joined that club's academy ranks. Making his professional debut in Germany, he played in the Bundesliga for Hannover, then became the first Canadian to play in La Liga, making nearly 100 appearances for Deportivo La Coruna from 2005-09.
In 2009, de Guzman became the first Designated Player for hometown club Toronto FC and the first Canadian Designated Player in MLS history, playing for the Reds until a trade in July 2012 to FC Dallas. In all, he made 77 appearances in MLS between 2009-12, scoring three goals and 10 assists from a holding midfield position.
He also finishes his career as the leading appearances leader for Canada, with 89, in an international career that spanned 2002-16 and included winning Canadian Player of the Year honors in 2008, CONCACAF Gold Cup Best XI selections in 2007 and 2009, and the 2007 Gold Cup Most Valuable Player award.
Many of his teammate shared their congratulations on a successful career on Monday:
Absolute pleasure playing with Julian de Guzman for Loved playing for his country. Happy retirement bro. @CanadaSoccerEN— David Edgar (@davidedgar141) January 30, 2017
To the man who paved the way for Canadian kids across Canada. To the man who was a mentor for me on and off the pitch. To the man that is more than just a friend, my brother for life, Julian de Guzman. Congrats on the amazing career and what you've done for Canada soccer. Thank You! #LEGEND @juliandeguzman81