A face of professional soccer has called it a career.
As the Seattle Sounders announced Wednesday, veteran forward Clint Dempsey has retired at age 35. He leaves the game after 115 matches in Seattle and, more prominently, more than a decade of stardom across Major League Soccer, the English Premier League and the U.S. Men’s National Team.
“After a lot of thought, my family and I have decided that this is the right time for me to step away from the game,” Dempsey said in a statement released by the Sounders. “I’d like to thank all of the teammates, coaches and support staff that I’ve worked with throughout my career. It has always been my dream to make it as a pro. I’m grateful to have been on this ride.”
Dempsey began with his home-state Dallas Texans and played with Furman University’s men’s team before the New England Revolution drafted him to the MLS in 2004. He spent 2007-2012 with Fulham Football Club and 2012-2013 with the Tottenham Hotspur before returning to MLS with the Sounders. He still holds the record for most goals by an American in the Premiership, per the Sounders, and was regularly Fulham’s leading scorer. In Seattle, he helped his MLS team capture a 2014 Supporters’ Shield, a 2017 Western Conference title and, of course, a 2016 MLS Cup.
Along the way, he was just as renowned for his international presence at the World Cup, starring for the U.S. Men’s National Team. He remains the only American to ever score in three consecutive FIFA World Cups, doing so in 2006, 2010 and 2014. And he retires tied atop the list of all-time international goal-scorers with 57 points to his name. According to the Sounders, his MLS marks are similarly supreme: 79 goals and 45 assists in 209 career appearances.
Dempsey has attributed much of his success to faith in Christ. He’s been known to look to Heaven in reflection after each goal. He’s listed his relationship with God as a driving motivator in the World Cup. And he told Sports Spectrum in 2014 that it was only after he began walking regularly with Jesus that he came to accept God’s plans:
“Now my faith in Christ is what gives me confidence for the future,” he said. “I know that through both good times and bad, He is faithful and will watch over me.”
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