After 11 years of playing professional soccer, American center back Jay DeMerit called it a career on Thursday in an open letter to fans of the Vancouver Whitecaps, the MLS team which he captains.
DeMerit, 34, suffered a torn achilles tendon this season, the second such injury in the last 15 months for the Wisconsin native. As a result, he has decided to hang up his cleats and leave with a career that was a lot to be proud of.
Out of college at the University of Illinois-Chicago, DeMerit had no interest so he hopped on a plane to England where he was eventually able to land with Watford FC but not after plenty of struggles as he explained in his letter.
I think about those first years in England, sleeping in the attic of my friend Kieron's house in London, broke, sharing bath water, and all alone trying to find a wall to kick my soccer ball against in my neighbourhood so I could work on my touch and footwork. I remember playing games in the middle of the winter, muddy, with nothing but a couple of cows and five people in the stands.
I think about the struggle to make it, the ability to always stay positive, and how eventually all of those experiences would make me so much stronger as a player, and most definitely as a person.
Then it all started to change.
After years playing in England (183 caps for Watford with nine goals), some of that in the Premier League, he returned to North America as the first signing for the then-expansion Whitecaps. He played in 70 games for Vancouver since 2011 with one goal.
DeMerit also earned a big role with the US National Team a bit later in his career. He started all four games for the American team at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa as well as with the team that was the runner-up in the 2009 Confederations Cup. In total he played 26 games in an American uniform for the national squad.