Luzunaris Announces Retirement

January 13, 2015 - United Soccer League (USL) - Rochester Rhinos News Release

Rochester, NY - On Monday, January 12th, Rochester Rhinos Forward Matt Luzunaris announced his retirement from soccer. Luzunaris, 25 years old, is retiring after spending the last eight years playing professionally across Europe and the United States.

Luzunaris announced on his personal Facebook page his decision to leave. Below are his parting words:

January 12, 2015 My Retirement Letter/Announcement

It's a bit of a read but it's from the heart and I hope you all take a minute to read this. Please disregard any typos or grammar errors, as that is not what I am focused on in this letter.

I look back a little over 8 years ago almost to this day where I signed my first professional soccer contract in Austria. I was 17. I find it interesting and ironic on how life seems to unravel itself. The good, the bad, and the ugly...

It's supposed to be a sad day for an athlete when they finally decide they are going to step away from the game as a player, but I feel a sense of relief and as if a weight has been lifted off of my entire being. I have been blessed for the last 8 years to have traveled the world, seen amazing things and places, created some of the best friendships I've ever had in my life and overall did what I loved to do for a living, play soccer. There are so many people I would like to thank over the years for being such positive influences and showing their continued support to me regardless of where I was in the world. There were also the naysayers and the people who always tried to drag me down with whatever foolishness they decided to throw my way. I can look back now and laugh because I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish. My career isn't based on multiple trophies and an extreme amount of money. But I can say that no matter how much money I could have made or how many trophies I could have won in my career, the opportunities I had and the friendships I created are priceless and I will always cherish that part of the game.

As everyone knows the hardest time in my career and life was 2012, when Austen passed. The support and love I felt and received literally from all around the world and everywhere I had been in my career was simply unbelievable. I wouldn't wish that feeling of loss and having to see what I had to see in that time upon my worst enemy, but the beauty that came out of each eventually in the long run cannot be replaced with anything. Again, the relationships, friendships and continued connections I made through that time will always hold a special place in my heart, as I will never forget those tough times. But tough times were somewhat of my calling in this game. The constant moving around, missing birthdays, weddings and just those special times you are supposed to have with your loved ones in your life, I missed those. Now of course, I go to do what I loved and get paid to do it, but I missed those times with special people.

May 4th, 2013 is really what changed the complete path I was on when I shattered my leg in a game. It took me a year and a half to come back, going through 3 surgeries specifically on my leg, one surgery to remove my appendix that had ruptured. I came back after it all and I didn't allow the initial injury to take me out of the game. I hurt everyday with my leg where I have pain, swelling and just a constant nag in my knee from nerve damage. This is definitely a factor in why I have decided to step away from the game, but the number one factor is a true and sometimes harsh reality that mostly everything in our lives comes to an end eventually. I am ready for the next steps in my life and I believe stepping away from the game is in my best interest and will allow me to be 150% committed to doing that. I want to focus on my life with my beautiful and amazing girlfriend Sara, she has been a rock for me in the last year and the support she has shown me goes beyond words. Behind every humble man I believe is a humble beautiful rock of a woman, she is mine! I want to finish school, continue being devoted to the Austen Everett Foundation as president, to take the proper steps in my next career and most of all... enjoy my friends, family and loved ones. I believe stepping away from the game will give me all of these things I am looking for and then some. I want to have my own family, where I can be healthy enough to play with my own kids, create my own family traditions on holidays, birthdays and just every day celebrations.

We have only one life to live and I want to live it to the fullest. I've accepted what this life has given me thus far for 25 years and I am excited and ready to take on hopefully the next 70 or so years. For everyone who is out there, who I continue to keep a relationship with or to the people I no longer speak to for whatever reasons that may be, thank you! Thank you to my parents Lisa and Ron for your continued support in my life as a whole. Always supporting my decisions regardless of what you thought of them. Thank you to my sister and her family, the Cofer's, the Leahy's/Noren's, and to my newest family the Deisinger's. With the love and support you have all shown me it truly makes me feel like I am not walking away from anything but rather I am walking into each and everyone of your arms and starting a beautiful life with. To Andrew and Tara Goldsmith, Mike Levine, Trevor Irving and of course Stephen Cofer my boys for life thank you for everything. Thank you to my doctors and physical therapists who were able to get me back to playing capacity. Thank you to SC Schwanenstadt, Magna Wiener Neustadt, Rapid Wien, San Jose Earthquakes, Orlando City Soccer Club, Carolina Railhawks and Rochester Rhinos for allowing me to be a part of your organizations and especially for the connections I have made with all of your fans and front office staff!

Sincerely,

Matt Luzunaris

It was truly a pleasure to have Matt involved in our organizations and our lives. We know that his work ethic and resilience are true testaments of his character and know that he will succeed in whatever passion he decides to pursue. Thank you, Matt, for all that you have done since coming to Rochester two years ago. We wish you well as you begin the next chapter of your life.

• Discuss this story on the United Soccer League message board...

United Soccer League Stories from January 13, 2015


The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.