Following an incredible international and professional career, long-time U.S. Men’s National Team attacker Clint Dempsey has announced his retirement from the game.
“After a lot of thought, my family and I have decided that this is the right time for me to step away from the game,” said Dempsey. “I’d like to thank all of the teammates, coaches and support staff that I’ve worked with throughout my career. It has always been my dream to make it as a pro. I’m grateful to have been on this ride. I would like to thank all of the fans who have supported me throughout my career with the New England Revolution, Fulham, Tottenham, Seattle Sounders and the U.S. Men’s National Team. Y’all have always made me feel at home, and it is something that I will always remember.”
A native of Nacogdoches, Texas, Dempsey retires as the joint all-time leading scorer in U.S. MNT history, holding the record of 57 goals with former teammate Landon Donovan. Dempsey ends his career with 141 international appearances (third most all-time) and 21 assists (tied for fourth most all-time).
A late bloomer of sorts, Dempsey first represented the United States at the Under-20 level and took part in the team’s run to the Quarterfinals at the 2003 FIFA Youth World Championships in the United Arab Emirates. After a fine collegiate career at Furman University, Dempsey was selected second overall by New England Revolution in the 2004 MLS SuperDraft and went on to win the league’s Rookie of the Year award that season.
Soon after, Dempsey collected his first senior team appearance, coming on as a substitute during a 1-1 draw in a World Cup Qualifying match against Jamaica on Nov. 17, 2004 in Columbus, Ohio. Dempsey’s first career goal came less than a year later when he headed home from close range in a 2-1 friendly defeat to England on May 28, 2005, just steps away from U.S. Soccer headquarters at Chicago’s Soldier Field.
Dempsey went on to represent the United States at the 2006, 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups, becoming the first and only MNT player to score in three different tournaments and captained the U.S. as it advanced from the Group Stage in 2014. He was part of three CONCACAF Gold Cup winning sides, lifting the regional title in 2005, 2007 and 2017, while his six goals earned him the Golden Boot at the 2015 edition. Dempsey’s three goals at the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup helped lift the USA to the Final and its best finish at a FIFA tournament while adding another trophy to his case as the U.S. forward took home the Bronze Ball.
He not only retires as the joint leader in international goals, but also as the MNT’s record holder in World Cup Qualifying caps (41) and joint leader in World Cup Qualifying goals with Jozy Altidore (18). Dempsey won U.S. Soccer’s Male Player of the Year award three times (2007, 2011 and 2012) and led the team in scoring during five different calendar years (2006, 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2015).
Professionally, Dempsey spent three seasons with New England Revolution, helping the club to back-to-back MLS Cup Finals appearances in 2005 and 2006. The Texas native set his sights abroad in 2007, joining fellow Americans Carlos Bocanegra and Brian McBride at Fulham. Dempsey’s first goal for the club made him an instant legend at Craven Cottage, scoring the lone strike in a home win against Liverpool on May 5, 2007, with that finish making the difference in Fulham avoiding relegation that season. Later in his stint, Dempsey helped Fulham to the 2009-10 UEFA Europa League Final, memorably scoring a dazzling strike against Juventus along the way. During six seasons in West London, Dempsey logged 180 league appearances and left Craven Cottage as the club’s all-time leading scorer in the Premier League with 50 goals.
After one season with Tottenham Hotspur, Dempsey returned stateside with Seattle Sounders FC in 2013, going on to help the side to the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title. Part of the Sounders FC team that won the club’s first MLS Cup, Dempsey was forced to miss out on the run to the league title due to a heart condition. He returned as a force in 2017, aiding the club back to the MLS Cup Final last season.