March 16, 2004 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Columbus Crew SC
COLUMBUS, Ohio (Tuesday, March 16) - Columbus Crew President and General Manager Jim Smith and head coach Greg Andrulis announced today that defender Mike Clark has retired from professional soccer. Mike and his wife, Laura, have two children, son Michael Jr., and daughter Sophia. They will remain in Columbus to live and pursue business opportunities.
"As I have made my decision to retire there are many people that I would like to thank," said Clark. "First, I would like to thank Lamar Hunt for giving me the opportunity to fulfill my dream of playing pro soccer. There is no greater advocate for the game of soccer, and his commitment to the sport and its players is unmatched. I would also like to thank the front office staff of the Crew. Their hard work and willingness to help in any way possible has made the last eight years a complete joy.
"The hardest part of this is the fact that I won't be going to work every day with the guys that I have grown so close to over the years. The bond that I share with this team of guys is one that will last forever. I just want to say thanks to every single player on the Crew.
"Finally, a huge thank you to my wife and family. For nine years Laura has been with me and I am certain I would not have been able to survive in this profession had it not been for her. The one thing which makes walking away from the game I love easier is the fact that the time I will have with my family has just multiplied.
"As one chapter closes, another chapter awaits. I am eagerly delving into the next chapter of my life. I have been fortunate enough to have some business interests in the Columbus area which will allow me to stay in the area. Currently, a business partner and I own two Great Clips franchises, one in New Albany and the other in Washington Court House. For over a year now I have also been working with Market Edge Mortgage which helps to satisfy my desire to be involved in the many facets of real estate. Columbus has captured my family's heart and we intend to be highly involved in the community for years to come. Lastly, I just want to say thanks to all of my friends, family and fans who have supported me and The Crew over the last eight years. I truly look forward to seeing all of you in the beer line."
The rugged defender was an original member of The Crew, after being drafted in the fourth round (31st overall) of the Inaugural MLS draft in 1996. Only Brian Maisonneuve now remains from the 1996 team.
"When you build a franchise you need guys like Mike Clark," said Andrulis. "He had eight great years here in Columbus both on and off the field. He was a pillar in the locker room as well as in the community. We wish him and his family all the best."
Clark ends his career as The Crew's all-time leader in games played (221), games started (216), and minutes played (18,942). His games started and minutes played rank fifth all-time in MLS history and his games played rank sixth all-time. He tallied three goals and 13 assists for 19 career points. The former Indiana star also appeared in 22 MLS playoff games and 18 U.S. Open Cup games, notching two career assists in each competition.
"No one has spent more time on the field in a Crew uniform than Mike Clark and his
commitment and durability came to personify America's Hardest Working Team," Smith
said. "It is a testament to him that he remained one of the few constants over the
course of our first eight seasons and I would like to thank Mike for his many
contributions, on behalf of the entire organization."