June 23, 2013 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Chicago Fire
CHICAGO, Ill. (June 23, 2013) - The Chicago Fire Soccer Club announced Sunday that defender Arne Friedrich has retired from professional soccer. The two-time German World Cup veteran brings an end to a 14-year professional career that saw him compete at the top levels in Germany before joining the Fire.
"This was a very difficult decision," said Friedrich. "After discussing it with the medical staff and my family, I've decided that it is the right time for me to retire from professional soccer. I was very excited to re-sign with the Fire following the 2012 season but unfortunately my injuries prevent me from returning to the game that I love. I have been truly blessed to represent my country at the highest level and play for world-class clubs. I would like to thank all of my teammates, coaches, the fans and my family for supporting me throughout my career."
Friedrich joined the Fire March 7, 2012 and was instrumental in the Fire's return to the playoffs. Friedrich made 23 appearances for the Men in Red, tallying one goal across 1,832 minutes. The two-time German World Cup veteran patrolled the Fire backline that held opponents to 41 goals in the 2012 regular season, tied for second best in the Eastern Conference. In recognition of his efforts, Friedrich was selected as the club's 2012 Defender of the Year. The Men in Red went 14-5-4 in matches where Friedrich commanded the Fire's central defense.
"We want to thank Arne for his contributions as a member of the Fire," said Chicago Fire President of Soccer Operations Javier Leon. "The experience and leadership that he brought to our team was invaluable. He was an integral part of or squad as we returned to the playoffs in 2012 and we wish him the best with his future endeavors."
Hailing from Bad Oeynhausen, Germany, Friedrich represented the German national team 82 times since his first appearance in 2002. During that time, the 6-1 defender compiled an impressive international resume, playing 13 of a possible 14 games while helping Die Mannschaft to matching third place finishes at the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cups. It was in the latter tournament that he scored, tallying in the 74th minute of Germany's 4-0 quarterfinal victory over Argentina July 3, 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa.
The renowned defender also represented Germany at the 2004 and 2008 UEFA European championships. In 2008, Friedrich appeared in four matches, helping his country to a runner-up finish. Capable of playing centrally or on the right side of the backline, Friedrich helped his national side to a third-place finish at the 2005 FIFA Confederations Cup in Germany.
Friedrich began his professional career with German Regionalliga side SC Verl, where he appeared in 31 matches from 1999-2000 before transferring to 2. Bundesliga side Arminia Bielefield the following season. Friedrich helped Die Blauen's promotion push to the Bundesliga during the first part of the 2001-02 season before transferring to Hertha Berlin that January.
It was in the German capital where Friedrich made his biggest mark, going on to tally 231 league appearances and 14 goals from 2002-10. Prior to the 2002-03 Bundesliga campaign, Friedrich helped the club to the preseason DFB Ligapokal. During the 2004-05 campaign, he was named club captain, a role he held throughout the remainder of his tenure with Die Alte Dame.
Following Hertha's relegation after the 2009-10 season, Friedrich transferred to VfL Wolfsburg where he appeared in 15 matches from 2010-11.
In his time with the Fire, Friedrich served as a mentor to his centerback partner Austin Berry. Under the German's tutelage, Berry made 28 consecutive MLS Regular Season starts en route to 2012 MLS Rookie of the Year honors.
Depending on his treatment, Friedrich is expected to return to Chicago later this summer and will be honored at an upcoming Fire home game.