Injuries force Fire defender Arne Friedrich to retire
BY SETH GRUEN For Sun-Times Media June 23, 2013 7:42PM
Updated: July 25, 2013 6:39AM
For the last three years, Fire center back Arne Friedrich has battled injuries that looked to threaten his career. On Sunday, one of the greatest German defenders of his era gave up the ghost and announced his retirement.
Friedrich appeared in 23 games for the Fire last season, leading a back line that allowed just 41 goals. He re-signed with the Fire this offseason, but never made an appearance because of hamstring and hip injuries.
He spent nearly a decade as a starting defender for the German national team, representing his country in two World Cups and two UEFA European Championships.
“This was a very difficult decision,” Friedrich said. “After discussing it with the medical staff and my family, I’ve decided that it is the right time for me to retire from professional soccer. I was very excited to re-sign with the Fire, but unfortunately my injuries prevent me from returning to the game that I love.
“I have been truly blessed to represent my country at the highest level and play for world-class clubs. I would like to thank all of my teammates, coaches, the fans and my family for supporting me throughout my career.”
Friedrich initially injured his hamstring in the days leading up to the Fire’s season opener. He returned to Germany for treatment and was able to train again with the team. But shortly after that, he injured his hip and has been unable to return.
Depending on Friedrich’s ongoing treatment schedule in Germany, the Fire intends to honor him at a home game this season.
“We want to thank Arne for his contributions as a member of the Fire,” President of Soccer Operations Javier Leon said in a statement. “The experience and leadership that he brought to our team was invaluable. He was an integral part of our squad as we returned to the playoffs in 2012 and we wish him the best with his future endeavors.”