Closing Time At The Caldwell Arms: Steven Caldwell Calls It a Day On Seventeen Year Career
Oh Captain, our Captain. In what has been possibly the most drawn out storyline for Toronto FC this season finally came to an end when earlier this morning Steven Caldwell announced his retirement after 17 years as a professional footballer:
It’s not a surprising move; in fact it’s one we’ve all been expecting for some time. But as the season wore on and reports kept coming that he was ‘training with the first team’ and ‘weeks away from playing’ we thought maybe, just maybe, he’d step out onto the pitch one last time in TFC red. This comes as sad news for many fans as we didn’t get to see him at home this season, his last appearance coming in March against Columbus. Caldwell will stay with Toronto FC and MLSE and is assuming the role of Director of Corporate Development…well at least it’s not another scouting position.
He was a player that many of us liked and respected from the beginning. He was a no nonsense kind of player, one with grit (which TFC have rarely had) and one that always showed his emotion and desire during games. When he was named captain two years ago (almost to the day) after the team released (former captain) Darren O’Dea, he was the obvious choice to take the armband. He embodied being a captain when on the pitch, his passion and commitment clear for all to see each game he played. Caldwell also helped to solidify a backline that was desperately in need of a veteran presence. He was one of the better centre-backs we’d seen at TFC for some time and seemed a calming presence for Doneil Henry and the rest of a fairly young defensive line until injuries started to get the best of him towards the end of the 2014 season. A mentor to many of the younger players and always a presence for team functions and community efforts, he represented the team on a number of levels and endeared himself to many.
Of course our favourite joke – and concern – around Caldwell’s play was his tendency to flap his arms about wildly while defending. The miracle is that not once did he get called for a handball or have a penalty called against TFC because of this bizarre tendency. Honestly how did he get away with this for seventeen years? Surely at least one coach must have said, ‘You know Steven, it really would be best if you kept your arms down. Only the keeper is supposed to handle the ball’.
The part that makes me the most sad isn’t so much that we didn’t get to see him play again – it’s the off season shenanigans that resulted in his captaincy being taken away in a rather disrespectful manner (A phone call? Really?) and given to Michael Bradley. We all know that this was poorly handled and served to further alienate a frustrated fanbase throughout parts of this season. In a weird way it deprived us of a way to say good-bye; Bradley could have been interim captain until Caldwell did announce he was stepping away – what would that have hurt?
However now it is time to say good-bye. Hopefully Toronto FC have the presence of mind to have a proper farewell ceremony this weekend before the match against Philadelphia to allow fans to give Caldwell one last cheer. Thanks for everything Steven; you were a class act.