Skip to content

Danny Califf announces his retirement from professional soccer

Jul 12, 2013, 6:15 PM EST

Lee Young-Pyo, Danny Califf AP

Throughout his career, you could always count on defender Danny Califf for an honest assessment, not an easy task given some of the teams the former U.S. international played for after his return to Major League Soccer. Even at the end of his 14-year career, Califf was transparent, saying changing priorities combined with a lack of playing team led him to announce his retirement.

The former Toronto FC defender, now TFC scout, is walking away with immediate effect, the announcement made Friday on the club’s website:

The reason for my retirement is because when yo are 33 years old and have played 14 years at a professional level, you start to have priorities that reach beyond yourself. Do I really want to train every day knowing that I am not in the coach’s plan to play, as well as knowing you are taking your kids and family way from their friends and family? The answer is no.

Califf’s diminished role in head coach Ryan Nelsen’s team was also cited by president/general manager Kevin Payne while commenting on Califf’s decision:

“I’m sorry Danny is unable to carry on playing at the level he would like, and totally respect his decision to retire.  He’s been a very good player and should be proud of what he’s accomplished,” said Toronto FC President and General Manager Kevin Payne. “I’m very pleased that he will continue to be a part of our organization and assist us in building our team for the future.”

Califf had only played 27 games in the last year-and-a-half, and as he said in his retirement letter, he was not part a significant part of TFC’s plans for the rest of the season. After a career that started with the Galaxy and featured stops in San Jose, Denmark, Philadelphia, Chivas USA, and Toronto, Califf had reached the end of a road that featured 211 MLS appearances, an MLS Cup, a U.S. Open Cup, two Supporters’ Shield and a Danish Superliga championship.

For the U.S., Califf made 23 appearances between 2002 and 2009, scoring once while taking part in two CONCACAF Gold Cup winners.

Despite those accomplishments, my most-vivid memory of Danny Califf came last year, the veteran having recently been traded to Chivas USA. In what may have been the lowest point of the Robin Fraser era, the Goats were routed by the Galaxy, 4-0, in mid-August. Amid a squad of players bolting the locker room early or otherwise avoiding questions about their performance, Dan Kennedy and Califf stepped up and, constraining a level of frustration that was about to erupt, answered every question the media had, even though you couldn’t help but think everybody would rather get out of there as soon as possible.

Kennedy was a long-serving member of Chivas USA and an established leader. Standing in the middle of the room, answering all those questions had become part of his role. Califf, however, was new to the team. He could have skipped out without anybody thinking worse of him. But he stayed. He didn’t deflect any questions or downplay the obvious.

It can be a little bit annoying when members of the press use interviews or media appearances as an example of a player’s personal qualities, but hearing from others who covered Califf regularly, that’s exactly the kind of player he was. Even as his teams got worse and his career faded, he was always forthcoming about it.

On Friday, he made a last, honest assessment about his career. And now, he can move on. His words:

For the first time in my life I will get to eat what I want, have a beer on a Friday night, and take a vacation in the summer. Those are the things I am looking forward to.

Latest Posts
  1. Watch Live: Stoke City vs. Chelsea (Lineups and Live Stream)

    Dec 22, 2014, 2:26 PM EST

    Chelsea v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League Getty Images

    Watch the Potters take on the leaders at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

  2. UEFA rankings: Real Madrid finish 2014 on top, but who else excelled?

    Dec 22, 2014, 1:47 PM EST

    Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale

    Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. are the top dogs in European soccer after a stellar 2014. But who else is in the top 20?

  3. 2014’s Top Ten moments in Premier League – Numbers 10-6

    Dec 22, 2014, 1:00 PM EST

    Britain Soccer Premier League AP

    Head butts, highlights and heroism from a memorable year of Premier League.

  4. NBC Sports to air first-ever “Premier League Breakaway” show on New Year’s Day

    Dec 22, 2014, 12:10 PM EST

    nbcsports1 (1)

    All the details here, as 30 PL games in seven days will be capped off in style to see in the New Year.

  5. Premier League preview: Stoke City vs. Chelsea

    Dec 22, 2014, 11:58 AM EST

    U.S. international, left, has become a regular for the Potters and is loving life in the Premier League. He had a big hand as Stoke famously beat Chelsea to ignite their season. Getty Images

    Can Cameron’s Stoke City beat Chelsea for the second-straight season? Watch live on NBCSN, 3 p.m. ET.

  6. Jonas Gutierrez plays first game for Newcastle since beating testicular cancer

    Dec 22, 2014, 11:04 AM EST

    Gutierrez Getty Images

    After surgery and chemotherapy, Jonas made his return for Newcastle on Monday.

  7. Brendan Rodgers: Liverpool can still finish in the top four

    Dec 22, 2014, 10:11 AM EST

    Crystal Palace v Liverpool - Premier League Getty Images

    Rodgers confident his side can go on a run and re-write the PL history books.

  8. DeAndre Yedlin granted work permit, heading to Tottenham Hotspur

    Dec 22, 2014, 8:30 AM EST

    Source: Tottenham Hotspur Source: Tottenham Hotspur

    No need for a Latvian passport, as Yedlin is granted UK work permit.

  9. Geoff Cameron: Eden Hazard is “best I’ve played against” in Premier League

    Dec 22, 2014, 7:55 AM EST

    Eden Hazard, Geoff Cameron Eden Hazard, Geoff Cameron

    Geoff on how to stop Chelsea, marking Hazard and the busy festive period in the Premier League.

  10. Antoine Griezmann bursts into the spotlight as Atletico downs Bilbao

    Dec 21, 2014, 11:59 PM EST

    Antoine+Griezmann+Getafe+CF+v+Club+Atletico+wVX6J_Xdokul

    Antoine Griezmann breaks out with three goals in Atletico’s 4-1 result over Athletic Bilbao.

  11. A day of Ronaldo: Real Madrid star erects statue of himself, thinks Real can win Champions League again

    Dec 21, 2014, 10:21 PM EST

    FBL-ESP-LIGA-REALMADRID-BARCELONA FBL-ESP-LIGA-REALMADRID-BARCELONA

    Cristiano Ronaldo has made headlines twice today, for erecting a statue of himself and claiming Real Madrid could repeat in the Champions League.

  12. WATCH: Tim Howard discusses autobiography ‘The Keeper’

    Dec 21, 2014, 8:17 PM EST

    tim_howard Getty Images

    Tim Howard converses about his recently released autobiography, “The Keeper.”

  13. Eyeing France national team call-up, AC Milan’s Jérémy Ménez keeps showing off his skills

    Dec 21, 2014, 7:40 PM EST

    Jeremy+Menez+qojlhLjziL0m Getty Images

    Jeremy Menez has done a fantastic job as AC Milan’s primary attacker, and he’s primarily aiming for the French national team call-up.

  14. Manager Ally McCoist exits Rangers, goes on gardening leave

    Dec 21, 2014, 6:20 PM EST

    Ally McCoist Getty Images

    Ally McCoist has left Scottish Championship team Rangers, as the club has recognized the former star striker is now on “gardening leave.”

  15. Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge to return from injury in January, according to manager

    Dec 21, 2014, 4:55 PM EST

    Manchester City Liverpool Soccer AP

    According to Brendan Rogers, Liverpool’s prime attacker, Daniel Sturridge, will make his return from a multi-month injury in early January.

  16. With his derby success, Adam Johnson thinks Newcastle United fans ‘must hate him’

    Dec 21, 2014, 4:05 PM EST

    adam_johnson AP

    Sunderland winger Adam Johnson on game-winner and Tyne-Wear derby triumphs: “Three years in a row, they must hate me here!”

  17. VIDEO: Poor finishing leaves Brendan Rodgers “deflated” despite late draw

    Dec 21, 2014, 3:39 PM EST

    Rodgers Getty Images

    Brendan Rodgers gives his thoughts after a 2-2 draw despite what he called “dominance” on the ball.

  18. VIDEO: Arsene Wenger regretfully admits draw with Liverpool fair

    Dec 21, 2014, 3:12 PM EST

    Wenger AP

    With polarizing halves separating the teams, Arsene Wenger said a draw was the correct result based on performance.

Featured video

JPW's top five PL moments of 2014