The 36-year-old two-time World Cup veteran said the time was right to step away from the playing side of the game and focus on the next chapter of his life.TORONTO - While many player retirement press conference are tearful affairs, Torsten Frings said he was perfectly at ease with his decision to step away from the game after a playing career that spanned 18 professional seasons.
"It's okay for me, I think I've had a great career," Frings told reporters. "I feel good with this decision."
The former German international and Toronto FC captain had been battling back from a hip injury that required surgery over the off-season, and while he felt fit enough to run, he says the rigors of an MLS preseason were enough to convince him that the time was right to step away.
"I can't help the club if I'm not 100 percent fit, and I'm not 100 percent fit," he said, pointing out the difference between conditioning -- which he worked hard to regain in the months since his surgery -- and the ability to play a fast-paced game of soccer at the professional level.
When the pain resurfaced after a few training sessions under new TFC head coach Ryan Nelsen, Frings knew that it was better to walk away from the game than push his body even further.
"I think it's the best for me because I have a life after my soccer career, and I want [to be] fit for being a coach maybe later," Frings said, alluding to a possible post-playing career within the game that has defined him.
In addition to coaching, both Frings and Toronto president Kevin Payne hinted at a continued relationship between the player and club.
"He's obviously got a long relationship with [Werder] Bremen and what we've talked about is that Torsten will help us in Europe," Payne said. "He'll help us look for opportunities, he'll specifically help us in our interest in trying to develop a relationship with Bremen, one in which we can exchange a lot of information with them.
"We have a lot to learn from clubs like that."
Payne, who has been busy trying to reconstruct the team after taking over in November, spoke of a possible connection between Frings and TFC that would mirror what the club has with another prominent former player, one who has been actively helping the club scout for new talent in his home country.
"In much the same way that we have a continuing relationship with Amado Guevara in Central America, we would like to have the same kind of relationship with Torsten," Payne stated. "There's a lot of mutual respect between the organization and Torsten."
Whatever happens in the future between TFC and Frings is to be decided, but the German legend said that both the team and the city have made a great impression on him.
"The game in Nicaragua was unbelievable," Frings said, referring to a CONCACAF Champions League match against Real Esteli that he lists as one of his favorite experiences as a TFC player. "I saw the pitch and it was unbelievable to play on ... it was funny."
"Of course the game in the Rogers Centre [against the LA Galaxy] was unbelievable," Frings added. "I have a lot of good experience here and I just want to say thank you to the city. It's a great city, I love Toronto."
The 36-year-old hinted that he'll still be a regular visitor after his planned move back to his homeland, perhaps even settling down in Southern Ontario for good at some point.
"I could live here," he said. "I want to come back every year, maybe for vacation. I love Toronto. It was a great experience for me."