(Picture via: @MLS)
The man with the greatest last name of all-time is calling it a career.
Jimmy Nielsen has announced his retirement two days after leading Sporting Kansas City their second ever MLS Cup. This marks the end of a 19-year career that has seen Nielsen become one of the best MLS goalkeepers in league history.
His statement via a Sporting KC:
“I want to thank the ownership group, my teammates, my coaches and the entire organization for the opportunity to have four of the best years of my life, not only mine but my family as well here in Kansas City.”
“I will remember these years forever. To the best soccer fans: Since Day 1, they have always been behind me and I want to thank them for all the support. I made the final decision to retire today and to end this part of my life and it was the perfect timing, finishing with a great championship that the entire city deserves.”
At age 36, Nielsen leaves as one of the best goalkeepers in franchise and league history. In four seasons with Sporting he was named to two All-Star teams, won MLS Goalkeeper of the Year, and MLS Best XI. He holds SKC’s club record for games played, games started, minutes played, wins, ties, winning percentage, and shutouts.
What best describes his quality of play is this stat: His 0.99 goals allowed per game (career) is best in MLS history, as is his 1.03 goals allowed per game on the road. (Minimum of 1,000 minutes played.)
Sporting owner Robb Heineman on Nielsen:
“What an incredible way to end a career. Jimmy Nielsen is so important to this organization on and off the field and we look forward to the next phase of our relationship. We thank him for all he has done for the organization, the city and the fans.”
Not surprisingly, fans and teammates are sad to see Jimmy go.
Jimmy Nielsen is a club legend and we wish him a world of happiness as he retires a Champion.
— The Cauldron (@KCCauldron) December 10, 2013
His retirement speech at Sporting’s MLS Championship gathering at Union Station was incredibly emotional, and you can see why so many fans are sad to see him go.
Congrats, Jimmy. You’ll be missed. And so will stuff like this:
I had some explanation to do when I got home last night… pic.twitter.com/IztavyKg2g
— Jimmy Nielsen (@PumaNielsen1) November 7, 2013