January 27, 2011 - North American Soccer League (NASL) - Minnesota United FC
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (JANUARY 27, 2011) - Chants of "You'll never beat Joe Warren" will no longer pour from the stands and beer garden at the National Sports Center Stadium. NSC Minnesota Stars goalkeeper Joe Warren announced his retirement Thursday after 13 seasons of professional soccer in his native Minnesota.
Warren played 12 seasons for the Minnesota Thunder before retiring after the 2007 season. He was a member of the Thunder's 1999 A-League Championship winning side. After his first retirement, he worked in the operations department at the National Sports Center, prompting his return to the game in 2010 when the NSC founded the Stars. Warren unexpectedly took over the starting goalkeeper role after Louis Crayton's season-ending knee injury during the first half of the Stars' first game last season.
"When I signed last year, my plan was to only play one more season," Warren said. "However, the 2010 season was extremely special for me, between the group of guys I met in March and the playoff run at the end of the season, it became a much more difficult decision to hang up the boots for good when the season ended."
Warren logged 2181 minutes for the Stars last year, posting a record of 10 wins, eight losses and four ties and recording a 0.99 goals against average. In May, Warren stopped penalty kicks in three consecutive games for the Stars, a feat both he and team staff said they'd never experienced before. Beyond his stats, Stars Head Coach and Director of Soccer Operations Manny Lagos said Warren's experience and leadership would be missed.
"Joe Warren had a great career prior to coming back and playing professionally again, and he really brought along a young team last year," Lagos said. "As a Minneapolis native who played his whole career here, Warren gave Minnesota soccer fans a career they should really be proud of. He has big shoes to fill, both literally and figuratively."
Warren's first retirement came shortly after the birth of his first daughter, Veronica. In 2010, he cited playing in front of her as one of his reasons for returning to the field. He and his wife welcomed their second daughter, Evelyn, during last season, an event that played largely into his decision to retire for good.
"Something else happened last summer that dwarfed the successes on the field, and that was the birth of my second daughter," Warren said. "I am now in the unique position of being able to stay home with Veronica and Evelyn during the day and pass along my passion for the beautiful game on evenings and weekends through the various clinics I run."
In addition to those clinics, Warren said he's looking forward to spending summers with his family, but he readily admitted that he will miss testing his competitive side day in and day out among friends from six continents.
"When I look back at the scope of my career, the thing that makes me smile is when I think of all guys I have had the chance to work with and call my friends," he said. "I have friends all over the world because of the game I have been blessed with the talent to play professionally. Although I will miss the competition and the training, what I will miss most is the special bond I had with with the group of guys from last year."