Canada legend de Guzman retires

Julian de Guzman (pictured) played in 17 career CONCACAF Gold Cup games for Canada and was named MVP of the 2007 edition. (Photo courtesy of Canada Soccer)

OTTAWA -- Julian de Guzman announced Monday his retirement from football after a professional career that included 15 years at the international level with Canada.

A three-time Canadian Championship winner, de Guzman will join Ottawa Fury FC's coaching staff for the 2017 season. From a 17-year professional career that took him to France, Germany, Spain, the United States and Greece, the 35-year-old spent his last two seasons as a player with Ottawa, winning an NASL Fall Season title in 2015.

“I’m very honored and thankful for such a great career and I’m proud to be Canadian,” said de Guzman. “I’ve went through a lot, had to sacrifice everything to do what I love, but I don’t regret anything.

"I've dedicated my entire career to Canada. This is the love of my life."

De Guzman set Canadian records with 89 appearances, 25 of which he worse the captain's armband. He also took part in four cycles of FIFA World Cup Qualifying and competed in a Canadian record six CONCACAF Gold Cups, earning tournament MVP honors in 2007, when Canada reached the semifinals. He was named to the Best XI selection in the 2007, 2009, and 2013 editions.

"Julian de Guzman is a Canadian soccer trailblazer whose impact on the game will be felt well into the future," said Victor Montagliani, President of Canada Soccer. "We would like to thank Julian for his hard work, perseverance and leadership over his 15-year career and wish him the best as he prepares for the next chapter of his career."

At the professional level, he was notably the first Canadian to star in Spain's La Liga, playing as a midfielder for Deportivo La Coruña and earning team 2007/08 MVP honors. In 2008, he was also named the Canadian Player of the Year.

On his return to Canada, he helped Toronto FC come within a win of reaching the 2009 MLS playoffs and then helped the club win three consecutive Canadian Championships from 2010-12.

“In my opinion, he is the greatest Canadian player ever,” said Paul Dalglish, Ottawa Fury FC General Manager and Head Coach. “To achieve what he achieved, on the international stage and in La Liga, one of the best leagues in the world, is truly incredible. And for us to have the greatest Canadian player joining our staff and being a source of knowledge to players that are trying to follow his footsteps is extremely valuable. We’re very lucky.”

De Guzman's international career spanned from 2002-16. Initially a youth player with Wexford SC in Scarborough, Ontario, he was 18-years-old when he joined the national youth program in 1999. Before making his international "A" debut in 2002 at 20, he represented Canada at the 2001 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina.