Just 24 hours after scoring the game-winning goal in the MLS All-Stars’ 2-1 comeback win over Bayern Munich, USA international and La Galaxy star Landon Donovan made the shock announcement that he will retire at the end of the 2014 season.
The 32-year-old revealed the news on Thursday in a reflective letter to fans, calling time on a prosperous career, which has seen him become the most recognisable and iconic figure in the American game.
‘I don't write these words lightly and this day carries mixed emotions for me. I am sad to leave a profession that has brought me so much joy. However, after spending half my life as a professional soccer player, I also am excited to begin a new chapter and pursue other opportunities that will challenge me and allow me to grow as a person.’
The League’s all-time leading scorer, with 138 goals in 320 games, Donovan has starred in MLS for 14 seasons between spells at the San Jose Earthquakes and with LA, winning five MLS Cups and the 2009 MVP award, among other honours.
Beginning his professional career in 1999 with Germany’s Bayer Leverkusen, before returning to the US in 2001 to make his MLS debut with San Jose, the forward also had a forgettable time on loan at Bayern Munich in early 2009, but enjoyed more success during short stints at Everton in 2010 and 2012.
Boasting a record 156 caps and 57 international goals since making his debut in 2000, Donovan’s name has become further synonymous with the US team over the years, having netted five times in 12 World Cup appearances at the 2002, 2006 and 2010 tournaments.
However, he was controversially omitted from the 2014 squad by Jurgen Klinsmann, in a move which is largely thought to stem back to his decision to take a three-month sabbatical from the sport after the 2012 season, in order to recharge his batteries in Cambodia.
Having agreed to a new multi-year contract extension with Galaxy just last August, most had assumed the California-native had a few more seasons left in him, with fans and various figures within the game taking to Twitter to both express their shock and celebrate his remarkable career.
Landon Donovan is the greatest U.S. male soccer player in history. He did it his way. I like that. I have spoken.— Alexi Lalas (@AlexiLalas) August 7, 2014
Landon Donovan played 4 months for Everton. He was the club's player of the month in two of them. #ThanksLD— Matthew Doyle (@MLSAnalyst) August 7, 2014
I'll never forget the first time I saw Landon Donovan play at Spartan Stadium in 2001. His quality was evident then and is now. #ThanksLD— Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle) August 7, 2014
When the story of pro soccer in the USA reaching its potential is written, Landon Donovan's name will figure prominently. Thank you, LD.— Merritt Paulson (@MerrittPaulson) August 7, 2014
Landon Donovan will go down as the best player our country has produced. It will be fun watching others try and reach a bar that high.— Kyle Martino (@kylemartino) August 7, 2014
I can't remember US Soccer without Landon Donovan.— Maxi Rodriguez (@FutbolIntellect) August 7, 2014
No one player is more responsible for MLS getting to this point than Landon Donovan. When everyone else left, he stayed. Thank you.— Ryan Rosenblatt (@RyanRosenblatt) August 7, 2014
Thank you just doesn't feel like enough for all that Landon Donovan has done for US Soccer and MLS. But, thank you LD. Thank you.— Kayla Knapp (@KaylaKnappFOX) August 7, 2014
Landon Donovan embodies what this team/sport is about & wears national team jersey with as much pride as any American ever will. We love ya.— The American Outlaws (@AmericanOutlaws) August 7, 2014
. @landondonovan it's been such an honor 2 play w & against you. Thanks for all you've done 4 our Country & 4 growing the sport we all love.— Nick Rimando (@NickRimando) August 7, 2014
Resolved from a young age to never have heroes solely based upon exceptional talent. LD was my #1, but for who he was outside the lines.— Zack Goldman (@ThatDamnYank) August 7, 2014
The pull of Cambodia must be strong. Congrats to an old friend (and the best player that America has ever produced!) on a great career. #LD— Jimmy Conrad (@JimmyConrad) August 7, 2014
A favorite Landon Donovan stat: he has 58 #USMNT assists, more than the next three Americans COMBINED.— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) August 7, 2014
Without Landon Donovan, most people probably don't care about the MLS stuff we tweet about all day long. The league, USMNT owe him a lot.— Andrew King (@AndrewKingMLS) August 7, 2014
The Landon Memoir will be the biggest soccer book in the history of soccer books. Get ready soccer book nerds.— Michael Milberger (@mmilberger) August 7, 2014
The only perk to being sick today is that no one sees me tearing up at my desk. I get to do that from my couch. #thanksLD— Allison Corona (@Allison) August 7, 2014
How will Landon Donovan be remembered in the game?