The last man standing from Major League Soccer’s inaugural campaign will retire at the end of the season, with San Jose’s Ramiro Corrales finally set to call it a career. The club made the news official this morning, announcing the 36-year-old’s ready to end a professional career that started in 1996.
Should the sixth place Earthquakes fail to jump into the West’s top five and secure a playoff spot, Corrales’s 18-season professional career will end Oct. 26 at Buck Shaw when San Jose hosts FC Dallas.
“It’s been an honor playing much of my career here in San Jose,” Corrales said, via a release distributed by San Jose. “I have a lot of great memories, from that first season in 1996 to the MLS Cups in 2001 and 2003 to the expansion season in 2008. It’s been a great ride and I’d like to thank everybody – fans, players, coaches – for their support along the way.”
Along that way, Corrales appeared in 15 Major League Soccer seasons, a run put on pause by a three-year stint in Norway from 2005-2007. After returning to San Jose, the defender/midfielder ran his MLS career totals to 306 games played, 24,537 minutes, 16 goals and assists. Along the way, he won two league titles (2001, 2003), was part of a Supporters’ Shield winner in 2012, and won a Norweigan title with SK Brann in 2007.
“Ramiro was a phenomenal player and one of the best this club has ever had,” according to Earthquakes general manager John Doyle. “I think it was great to be able to play with Ramiro and see him mature from a 19-year-old kid to a grown man. His contributions over the years have meant a lot to this organization.”
That contribution will live on in the team’s record books. He is the San Jose’s all-time leader in games played (249), starts (227) and minutes (20,117). Combined with three seasons split between the Miami Fusion and MetroStars (1998-2000), Corrales’s career appearance total ranks 17th in league history.
While he was a significant contributor to San Jose’s 2012 success (recording seven assists in 22 games), Corrales has only made 11 appearances this season. In that sense, perhaps it was time for him to go. After all, San Jose’s depth chart won’t be thinning out any time soon.
Still, even at 36, Corrales had something left to give. If he’d stayed on for another season, we would have been able to contribute in some capacity. When healthy, he was still capable of doing a job.
But with today’s announcement, Corrales exercised the right few players get, one earned through 18 seasons of work. He gets to walk away of his own volition.