Thank you, football.
Today, I announce the end of my playing career.
First, I am thankful to the people who have been a part of my journey: my friends, my dear family - my son, my three sisters, brother, and my beautiful and strong mother. Your support means the world to me. We have memories and experiences that we will forever cherish.
Second, thank you to all my previous clubs: Cardiff City, Greenock Morton, West Brom, Norwich City, Derby, Nottingham Forest, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Toronto FC, Blackpool, Chicago Fire, and Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Thank you to all the players that I have shared the football pitch with, the coaches and support staff for their endless of hours of support, and most important thank you to the fans.
I have fond memories of watching my mum play football in Zambia and then in Malawi where I went to school, making footballs with plastic bags, having crocodiles as school pets, and living in an African coal mine village.
I was raised by my mum, who was working two jobs and still managed the time to support me. I have no doubt that this is where I get my energy and drive. I lost my father when I was nine so I never had a father figure.
In a way, football has been like a father to me. It has taught me about life, about working hard and staying focused. Football has taught me about the world, about religion, nationalities and communities, and how regardless of our numerous backgrounds we can all come together to play a game we all love.
Football taught me how to be a man on and off the field and to be a better person. Football has given me a chance to play on the same team as some of my heroes and has also given me the opportunity to play against and share the pitch with some of the best players to have played the game, people like Ronaldinho, Del Piero, Kaka, Pirlo, Giggs, Ronaldo, Bergkamp, Henry, and Beckham – I could go on.
“Football taught me how to be a man on and off the field and to be a better person.” - Robert Earnshaw
From kicking footballs against our garage door in Caerphilly, Wales, to growing up and playing in the English Premier League, to gracing the international stage with Wales – I’ll never forget any of it. Being able to represent every fan and every football supporter in Wales 59 times, and scoring the winning goal against Germany on my debut are great moments I share with my country and are truly special to me.
At a young age, I knew my passion for this game when I watched football on TV and specifically when I watched the USA World Cup ‘94, so it's fitting that my playing career has come full circle to end in Major League Soccer.
After 579 matches and 236 goals later in my 19th year, I can now say this chapter is turning to give me a chance to start a different role and give back what I've learned and experienced.
I've always been scared to see the end of my playing days and now that it’s here I’m sad but excited that Vancouver Whitecaps FC have given me a chance to become the head coach of the U-14 Pre-Residency team, as well as the club’s strikers coach.
They say your life starts when you retire from football, and now I can’t wait to get started and really enjoy my other passions.
Thank you, football.
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