Pacific FC captain Marcel de Jong retires after 17 years as a pro

Marcel de Jong, by Canadian soccer standards, reached rarefied heights in making more than 250 pro premiership appearances in the German Bundesliga and Dutch Eredivisie.

The 56-time Canada capped defender, who also played three seasons with the Vancouver Whitecaps in MLS, announced his retirement Friday and is handing over the captain’s armband after two seasons with Pacific FC.

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“I’ve travelled a lot and seen a lot and am grateful to have had the opportunity,” said de Jong.

“It makes me proud to have played in the top leagues of Germany, Netherlands and North America. And with Team Canada, we came close a couple of times to making the Hex [final round of qualifying for the World Cup]. Putting on your national team’s jersey is the highest honour for any player.”

After 17 years as a professional, de Jong said he made the “difficult decision to officially hang up my boots and pursue another exciting venture.”

He added: “It’s been a sad and happy couple of days of mixed emotions, reflecting on the fact I will no longer be on the pitch playing. But I will be forever grateful to Pacific for the time I’ve had at the club and on the Island, which I will continue to call my home.”

The veteran sent a shout-out to the PFC fans: “I want to thank you for your unconditional, continuing support and belief in me. You guys are the true heart and soul of this game and the reason we do what we do.”

The 34-year-old native of Newmarket, Ont., did not say specifically what he will be doing in his post-playing career, but that it will involve soccer at the youth level on the Island.

Even though de Jong missed much of the 2019 season because of a burst Achilles, and the 2020 season was bubbled in Prince Edward Island and abbreviated due to the pandemic, his veteran presence, whether on the bench or field, was multi-faceted for PFC, a club with several emerging young players. He has been to where they want to get. PFC general-manager and CEO Rob Friend described de Jong as PFC’s leader on and off the pitch.

The 2021 CPL season is scheduled to begin on the Victoria Day weekend, May 22-24.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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