Inspirational DeMerit announces retirement

Former United States international Jay DeMerit announced his retirement from football on July 24, 2014. (Photo: Mexsport)

VANCOUVER, Canada  One of the most unique athletic careers in recent history came to a close Thursday, when Vancouver Whitecaps FC’s Jay DeMerit announced his retirement.  The former United States international rose from the ninth level of English football all the way to the World Cup.

DeMerit started each of his 11 Major League Soccer (MLS) appearances this season, before suffering a torn tendon in his left ankle in a 3-3 draw with Philadelphia Union on June 7.

"I'm very proud of what I've been able to accomplish in my 10-year professional career with two clubs that will forever remain close to my heart," said DeMerit.  "I hope that I will be able to continue to inspire others to pursue their dreams.”

DeMerit, Vancouver’s first-ever signing in 2010, will remain with the club in a community relations capacity.

Before joining Whitecaps FC for their inaugural MLS campaign in 2011, DeMerit played six seasons with England's Watford.  He became a member of the Football League Championship side (second tier in England) in July 2004 following an impressive preseason performance against the club as a trialist with semi-professional Northwood FC of the Isthmian League Premier Division (seventh tier in England). 

Quickly became a regular starter with Watford, DeMerit helped it gain promotion to the English Premier League by scoring the match-winning goal in the 2005-06 Championship playoff final against Leeds United.  In total, DeMerit started 193 of 213 appearances in all competitions with The Hornets and scored 10 goals during that period. 

The defender also played the 2003-04 season with Southall FC of the Combined Counties Football League (ninth tier in England), and spent one season with Chicago Fire Premier of the United Soccer Leagues Premier Development League in 2001.  At the collegiate level, he was a starter at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the NCAA Division I from 1998 to 2001. 

Internationally, DeMerit earned 25 caps with the United States.  Despite suffering a serious eye injury just months prior to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the center back started all four of his country’s matches in South Africa.  In 2007, he won the CONCACAF Gold Cup and played in the Copa America.  Two years later, DeMerit helped the U.S. reach the final of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup.