It’s a moment that eventually reveals itself to every pro athlete. When do you know it’s time to hang up the cleats, high tops or skates? You just know.
“It’s a feeling you get,” said Pacific FC captain Jamar Dixon, the Canada-capped midfielder, who has announced his retirement from soccer at the end of this Canadian Premier League season.
Dixon’s career arc stretches from Victoria Highlanders summer seasons in the amateur Premier Development League from 2009 to 2011, when he was still in university soccer with the St. Francis Xavier X-Men of Nova Scotia, to pro in Finland and Sweden and his hometown Ottawa Fury of the NASL, to three seasons back on the Island with PFC.
“Victoria was a big part of that and has felt like a second home to me,” said Dixon, 33.
“The Highlanders believed in my ability and took a chance on me.”
Nearly a decade later he returned to the Island as a pro in the CPL with three seasons played in PFC purple.
“I feel I have left this team in a good place with three playoff appearances and the championship last year, which is a big deal, and something every player strives for,” said Dixon.
The three caps with Canada — one in a friendly against the U.S. and two in CONCACAF qualifying for the 2018 World Cup against El Salvador and Honduras — were career highlights.
“When you start out you want to ideally do three things — make it to the pros, win a championship, and have the honour of representing your country. I have been able to do all three,” he said.
Dixon has led the Tridents for three years with quiet reserve and dignity, traits he learned as far back as Highlanders days, when he patrolled the midfield with current PFC head coach James Merriman.
“James and I played alongside each other, and being a younger player at the time, I always listened to him,” said Dixon.
Merriman thought back to those years: “Retirements come but this is a special one for me because I took Jamar under my wing when we played together on the Highlanders. I know his value and what he brings. Jamar was a massive pillar of our championship team last year. This is a loss but also a celebration.”
Dixon will play his final two regular-season games as PFC closes out tonight at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Ont., against Forge FC and Saturday in Calgary against Cavalry FC. The Tridents have qualified for the CPL playoffs and will play in the two-legged semifinals, matching the first versus fourth seeds and second versus third seeds, on Oct. 15 and Oct. 22 with a game guaranteed at Starlight Stadium. The semifinal match-ups will be decided over this final week of the regular season.
The single-game CPL championship final will be played Oct. 29 at the home of the higher remaining seed.
“The playoffs are a different world,” said Dixon.
“But I like our chances because of the way we have come together and overcome several difficult circumstances this season.”
CORNER KICKS: Dixon, married and with a young daughter, will likely stay with the PFC organization in some capacity following his retirement this year as a player.
“His presence is valuable and we are going to keep Jamar around. He is not going too far,” said head coach Merriman, hinting at some sort of role in player development.
“Jamar will be a part of our process, and a building block, to the future.”
Dixon said: “I want to stay involved in the game. There is so much talent on the Island that I would love to develop and help take to the next level.”