Giuseppe Rossi, the New Jersey-born striker who was slammed for his decision to turn his back on the country of his birth, has retired. The former Manchester United and Villarreal forward has brought his playing career to an end at the age of 36.
After rising through the academy at Parma, Rossi was signed by Premier League giants United as a 17-year-old, and his emergence sparked an international tug-of-war. After much deliberation, Rossi chose to play for Italy – where his parents were born – instead of the USMNT in 2008.
Rossi went on to make 30 appearances for the Azzurri, scoring seven goals, but his promising career was hit by a series of injury problems, preventing him from reaching his full potential. He played just five games for United before a six-year stay in Spain with Villarreal.
That was where Rossi played his best soccer, scoring 82 goals in 192 appearances before injuries struck again. A frustrating five-season spell at Fiorentina followed where he enjoyed one excellent season, with 17 goals in 24 games, but he scored just two other goals across his in Florence. In recent years, he has played sporadically for Italian clubs Genoa and SPAL and Real Salt Lake of MLS.
Rossi, born and raised in New Jersey with an unmistakable accent, was heavily criticized for his decision not to represent the US and his agent Andrea Pastorello admitted in 2016 he and his client had made an error not playing for the country of his birth – where he had the potential to be a superstar.
“From running around the backyard as a kid with a ball at my feet and having my father as a coach, to playing at the highest level of football possible, in the most beautiful stadiums football can offer and playing with/against the best players and clubs in the world.
“I’m eternally grateful to have been a part of this game. My dreams came true. My life is fulfilled. All I ever wanted was to be the best player I could be. I dedicated every ounce of me, shedded (sic) blood, sweat and tears for this game. I can leave the game peacefully, knowing I did all I can possibly do to achieve my goals.
“My journey is unique. A lot of ups but also some downs. Those down moments (mostly injuries) never defined me. My purpose was stronger than any obstacle that was in front of me. I never stopped dreaming when things I couldn’t control got in my way.
“I love the game so much that I could’ve never given up. That is why I’m writing this with a heavy heart but a big smile on face – I’m proud of what I accomplished!”