Jay DeMerit, the eternal underdog, retires from footballJuly 23, 2014 at 9:58 pm | Posted in Vancouver Whitecaps, Whitecaps season 2014 | 2 Comments
Tags: Jay DeMerit, Vancouver Whitecaps
It is a sad day. With his recent ankle injury, speculation was that Jay DeMerit would hang up his boots. That speculation proved to be accurate as Jay today announced his retirement from football. Time has caught up with our beloved captain.
Jay was the first big name to sign with the newly minted Vancouver Whitecaps version 3.0 in Major League Soccer back in 2011. When we look at the entire history of the Whitecaps since 1974, I am convinced Jay will be remembered as one of the great players in our team’s history. While it was always going to be a struggle for the Whitecaps being an expansion franchise, the character of Jay DeMerit allowed the team to play through the difficult periods with courage and dignity. In many ways he carried the team on his shoulders and the Whitecaps players, fans and coaches thrived under his leadership.
DeMerit’s pride in his craft meant he never gave anything less than his all. It would be easy for him to try to rest on his reputation, but you got the feeling Jay always played like he was a keen rookie trying to impress the coach and make the team.
Jay’s style of defending was to be proactive in tackling to try to break up plays early rather than taking a wait and see approach. Sometimes this enthusiasm got him into trouble when he mis-timed a tackle, but such occasions were rare. With his considerable physique, Jay was feared by strikers who rarely got the best of him physically. Jay was truly a force of nature out there on the pitch.
Jay’s aggressive physical approach got him in to trouble with injuries as his body paid the price for his playing style. He missed large periods of time during his time here in Vancouver due to injury. He was injured soon after the first match of 2011; he was healthy in 2012, He missed the majority of 2013 with an Achilles injury, and his career was ended by another ankle injury in 2014. It is no fluke that the season Jay played the most games in 2012 was the season the Whitecaps made the MLS playoffs.
We always knew inside that 2014 would be his last year as a player, but it still hurts to think he won’t pull the jersey on again as a player.
The theme of Jay’s career was that of the underdog trying to break in to places he never should have been. This was the case in England, where he simply showed up without a team and worked his way up to a professional contract with Watford of the Championship, a true underdog’s team. Jay scored the winning goal in the Championship playoff match against Leeds United to take Watford up to the holy land: the English Premiership. Jay was the team’s captain, a position he earned through hard work, courage and character.
Jay played in the World Cup for his country, the United States, in South Africa. His film Rise and Shine: the Jay DeMerit story makes provides great insight in telling the story of his rise from total football obscurity to that of an established starter in a premier League club.
I am very proud that we got to see the latter part of the Jay DeMerit story unfold before our eyes at Empire Field and at BC Place. Though Jay never won a lot of big trophies in his career, there is no doubt that he is a winner, a football legend with a tale that is inspirational to us all whether we are footballers or just fans.
Lets hope Jay sticks around our city. It is a better place with him in it.