Dichio takes final bow

Toronto FC says Danny Dichio will continue in a coaching and scouting role with his family...

Toronto FC says Danny Dichio will continue in a coaching and scouting role with his family remaining in Toronto. (Sun Media/Greg Henkenhaf)

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:54 PM ET

In his homeland, Danny Dichio was a journeyman, a burly player who had a successful pro career based largely on hard work and grit.

In Toronto, the personable Englishman was a soccer hero, the first for the city's fledgling MLS franchise. That run of glory game to an end today when the 35-year-old announced his retirement while accepting a role as team ambassador and a coach.

The 6-foot-4 striker closes the book on his career as the team's leading scorer with 14 goals in 59 games, but none of those more memorable than the first in franchise history. It came in the 24th minute of team's fifth game, not a moment too soon for a fan base desperate for something to celebrate.

"It was the sheer emotion of the day and a relief that we scored," Dichio said this morning at a BMO Field press conference. "It could have been anyone that day and God was looking down on me and I was lucky enough to put the ball in the back of the net.

"It wasn't a great goal by any means."

Yet it was one of the most celebrated strikes of his career, one that prompted fans to fire giveaway cushions onto the field. To this day, Dichio is serenaded in the 24th minute of each Reds game to honour the iconic moment.

Well-travelled in his European career, Dichio said he has settled into life in Canada with his family, which helped cement the decision to remain with the club.

His retirement helps pave the way for the team to sign coveted midfielder Julian de Guzman, a veteran of the Canadian international side.

TFC general manager Mo Johnston acknowledged today that talks with de Guzman are intensifying and that the Scarborough product could be signed by later today or tomorrow.

With his playing time limited this season, Dichio was planning on retiring at the end of this season anyway. But with the team in a push to make its first post-season appearance, Johnston saw an opportunity for Dichio to contribute in a different way while beginning to learn his new profession.

"I think it's come at the right time," Dichio said. "My body's been feeling a bit bad. Also I haven't been playing as much as I wanted to. That's down to me not training to my full ability and also there's better players in the team at this moment of time."

Dichio will help coach Chris Cummins -- presumably as a first task to help the team find a way to increase scoring -- but will work with Johnston in scouting and other coaching duties with the Toronto FC academy.

"Danny's been a massive part of the club for the last three seasons," Cummins said. "And he's going to continue to be massive part."


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