Former US national team midfielder Stuart Holden has called time on his efforts to recover from a series of long-term knee injuries.
The 30-year-old announced his retirement on Wednesday after a two-and-a-half-year absence from first-team football since tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament during the 2013 Gold Cup final.
He recently trained with the USA during the team’s annual January training camp in Carson, California, while contemplating a comeback but opted to hang up his boots instead.
Writing in an open letter posted on ussoccer.com, the ex-Bolton Wanderers ace said: "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.”
A Clemson University product, Holden first rose to prominence with the Houston Dynamo after a brief stint at Sunderland, recording 16 goals and 14 assists in 99 MLS appearances for his hometown club between 2006 and 2009, while winning two MLS Cup titles.
The one-time All-Star eventually earned a high-profile move to Bolton in January 2010 but a nightmare run of injuries during his time in England proceeded to derail a blossoming career.
After breaking his leg in March 2010, the Scottish-born midfielder suffered the first of several knee injuries 12 months later and never returned to the first-team for an extended period.
His final comeback attempt lasted just 23 minutes into an Under-21s game in March 2014 before another setback forced him to undergo his fourth major knee operation in the space of just three seasons.
In total, the Texas native made 34 appearances for Bolton between 2010 and 2013, winning the club’s Player of the Year award in 2011, and also earned 25 international caps, including a substitute appearance at the 2010 World Cup.
He has been working as a TV pundit back in the USA since his Trotters contract expired in the summer of 2014 and welcomed his first child earlier this week.