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The longtime U.S. national team defender calls it quits after a 16-year pro career.

Frankie Hejduk has announced his retirement from professional soccer, following a 16-year career in which he represented the United States at two World Cups and two Olympics, and captained the Columbus Crew to the 2008 MLS Cup.

“I want to thank my family and all of my teammates, trainers, equipment managers, front office staffers, coaches and fans for making my life that much more special, both on and off the field,” Hejduk said. “We all share a special bond that’s tough to explain to anyone outside that circle, but the memories we share and the good times we had will never be forgotten or matched."

Hejduk, 37, became one of the most recognizable faces in U.S. soccer over the course of his career, due to his long, flowing hair and dynamic play at outside back.

The California native started his pro career with the Tampa Bay Mutiny in 1996, before moving to Bayer Leverkusen of the German Bundesliga from 1998-2002 and St. Gallen of the Swiss First Division in 2002. He returned to MLS in 2003 with the Crew, where he stayed until 2010. He spent one final season with the LA Galaxy in 2011.

During his MLS career, Hejduk won two MLS Cups (2008 with the Crew and 2011 with the Galaxy) and five Supporters' Shields (1996, 2004, 2008, 2009, 2011). He was named an All-Star six times.

Hejduk earned 85 caps for the U.S. national team, and has the distinction of being the only player to see action in both the 1998 and 2002 FIFA World Cups, and the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games. He was also named to the 2006 U.S. World Cup squad, but tore his ACL prior to the tournament.

The Crew announced that Hejduk will join the front office as brand ambassador, a newly created role in which he will promote the Crew through a variety of methods.

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