Numerous fans and figures within the game took to Twitter to pay tribute to former Watford and USA centre-back Jay DeMerit, after injury forced the Vancouver Whitecaps captain to call time on his career.
After a career which saw him work his way up from the ninth-tier of English football to star for Watford in the Premier League, former USA centre-back Jay DeMerit has announced his retirement in an open letter to Vancouver Whitecaps fans.
His unveiling as the club’s first-ever MLS signing in November 2010 met with much fanfare, the 34-year-old has endure four injury-ravaged seasons in the Pacific Northwest, with a recent ruptured tendon in his ankle prompting the decision to end his time on the pitch.
His ascent to stardom chronicled in the documentary film Rise and Shine: The Jay DeMerit Story, the Green Bay, Wisconsin-native first arrived in England in 2003 out of college, playing for non-league sides Southall and Northwood, before being spotted by Watford in a pre-season match in 2004.
Helping the club from League One to the Premier League in 2006-07, DeMerit would appear in 190 games for the Hornets from 2004 to 2010 until his departure that summer, eventually opting to make the move to MLS with the Whitecaps, where he was named team captain before their inaugural campaign.
A key member of the US national team from 2007 to 2010, the 25-times capped defender played all four games during the side’s run to the last 16 at the 2010 World Cup, but was never called into squad under current manager Jurgen Klinsmann.
Still keen to be heavily involved in the game, DeMerit will be adopting a new role as an ambassador for the Whitecaps and the sport in general, with many fans, players and other figures rushing to pay tribute to him, such was his standing among his peers. The following are just a small sample.
Jay Demerit @D6MERIT is the reason my passion for soccer was ignited again. He's the reason I still hold on to my dream of making it.— Christian Vasquez (@_christiandv) July 24, 2014
“@D6MERIT: Today, my journey as a professional soccer player comes to an end.> Legend!! An honor playing with you mate! Wish you the best— Charlie Davies (@CharlieDavies9) July 24, 2014
Farewell to my sisters favorite player @D6MERIT, a galaxy fan that would wear her Demerit jersey when the white caps were in town— Jared showalter (@JShow83) July 24, 2014
@D6MERIT = LEGEND— Mike Magee (@magee9) July 24, 2014
.@D6MERIT Thank you! You're a true inspiration. I hope millions of people follow your lead by dreaming big & living out those dreams.— Chad M. Moon (@This_is_CMM) July 24, 2014
Congrats @D6MERIT on an amazing career...legend on and off the field— Dan Kennedy (@1DanKennedy) July 24, 2014
Jay DeMerit is a prime example of a young American who fell through cracks but clawed his way to top. Congrats on a great career, @D6MERIT.— Liviu Bird (@liviubird) July 24, 2014
Respect to Jay DeMerit @D6MERIT...have always been a big fan of how he conducts himself on/off field (despite being Packers fan). Will miss— Merritt Paulson (@MerrittPaulson) July 24, 2014