A day after announcing he had become a father, U.S. men's national team midfielder Stuart Holden made another announcement: That he is officially turning the page to the next chapter of his professional life.
Holden announced his retirement from playing Wednesday, cutting short a once-promising career that was beset by injuries. Holden suffered multiple significant knee injuries, starting March 2010 in a friendly against the Netherlands and beyond–both with Bolton and with the U.S. national team–and the 30-year-old penned a first-person letter on U.S. Soccer's website to announce his plans.
It’s time to stop fighting my body. I’ve known for a while, but I’ve struggled to admit it to myself and to others. The countless sleepless nights, the aches and pains, and the constant mental battles were all signs pointing to a new path. But every time I was about to utter the three big words “I am retired”, all the memories of walking into roaring stadiums, scoring last-minute goals, and being part of amazing teams dragged me back! The same never-say-die attitude that drove me to fight like hell my entire career wouldn’t let me say the “R word”. I met every setback - and there were many - with a positive attitude. I responded to every disappointment with an “OK. What’s next?” Now, again, I must answer that question. What is next is being proud of my accomplishments, giving thanks to those who have supported me, and smiling at whatever the future holds, the first of which is a baby girl.
Holden was a standout for the Houston Dynamo before moving to Bolton and earning the club's Player of the Year honors in 2011. He made a return to the national team in time for the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, but he suffered a torn ACL in the final against Panama, and he never played a competitive game after that.
In the midst of his latest rehabilitation stint, Holden has been a TV analyst for Fox Sports and ESPN FC, something he will continue to do going forward.
As he wrote:
The most recent opportunities will keep me in the game as a broadcaster, a coach, and maybe even as an owner one day. Who knows? Not me. What I do know is that I am 100% at peace with my decision to retire from playing, and I am 200% excited for the future. True closure has been hard to come by, but man it feels good.