Long-time USMNT defender and Crew star Hejduk retires

FrankieHejdukRetires (ISIPhotos.com)

Frankie Hejduk has called it a career.

The long-time U.S. national team defender and Columbus Crew captain retired on Thursday, ending an impressive career that saw him play in multiple World Cups as well as in Europe.

Hejduk enjoyed a 16-year professional career that saw him play for the Tampa Bay Mutiny, Crew and LA Galaxy in MLS, with a stint at German club Bayer Leverkusen. He won MLS Cups with the Crew (2008) and Galaxy (2011), and won a total of five Supporters Shields.

Hejduk made 85 appearances with the national team, playing in the 1998 and 2002 World Cups and the 1996 and 2000 Olympics.

What did you think of Hejduk as a player? What was your fondest moment of his playing days?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in MLS- Columbus Crew, U.S. Men's National Team. Bookmark the permalink.

68 Responses to Long-time USMNT defender and Crew star Hejduk retires

  1. Rich says:

    Frankie’s a fan favorite in Columbus. Pretty happy that he’ll still be around.

    Loved his gutty performance with a tweaked knee in the 2009 episode of dos-a-cero.

  2. alex says:

    link to youtube.com

    this is one of my favorite profiles of him.

  3. Dillon says:

    Maybe my favorite national team player ever. No one has ever played harder than HeyDude.

  4. Hopper says:

    Best US player at the 1998 World Cup. Earned himself a transfer to Bayer Leverkusen with that performance, and should have started ahead of Jeff Agoos at the 2002 World Cup.

    He had a really good career.

  5. Adam says:

    Nobody worked harder than HeyDude. He got hurt, so didn’t make the 2006 team, but he was in the stands cheering the team on. Even in the stands cheering, nobody was working harder than him.

  6. elgringorico says:

    So if Frankie collapsed on the field with cardiac arrest we wouldn’t actually be surprised… holy sh*t that’s a lot of expresso

  7. ec says:

    Such a hard worker, great attitude, always under appreciated. Enjoy the surf, Frankie!

  8. Brad says:

    And HeyDude surfs off into the sunset. He had a great career and I couldn’t think of a Crew player more deserving to get a goal in the MLS final. Never the most talented of players(I often referred to him as Charlie Hustle) but played hard every game and was all heart. Wish there was good USMNT game to give him a proper send off.

  9. sean says:

    Definitely a guy you want to thank for her service to the US National Team. Brought it in 1998 and even that game in qualifying for 2010 WC he helped clinch the tie. It was significant.

    Thanks Frankie!

  10. epablo says:

    his signature surf slide tackles will be missed :D

  11. Matt C in tampa says:

    Still loved in Tampa.

    He should finish out with a stint at the Rowdies. Even if just for A game

  12. matt says:

    Also scored the winning goal with a rocket in the 2007 Gold Cup semi-final, which of course led to our last Gold Cup championship.

    Absolutely love this guy for his attitude and hustle.

    Happy Trails Frankie

  13. TomG says:

    Wait a minute. He was still playing? No way!!

  14. RLW2020 says:

    one of the great ones, US National team hero

  15. PGS says:

    HEYDUDE! Thanks Frankie for always leaving it all on the field. Loved watching you play.

  16. strider says:

    Loved Frankie’s attitude – NEVER say die and always hustle. Oddly, my favorite memory was of him in the stands at the 2006 match against Czech. Even though he was hurt and couldn’t play, he was getting us all pumped up to root for the team! Quite a leader.

  17. Mark says:

    I loved this guy. Always left it all on the field, and he always made it interesting with his slide tackles in the box and his crossing. You never knew what was going to happen, but you always knew he’d play hard…

  18. Matt c in Tampa says:

    Ran into him wandering the concours in WC06 in Nuermburg stadium at US/Ghana match. Very polite and accomadating.

  19. Chris says:

    I always thought of him as our American Puyol….Great, amazing player! wish him the best in his future endeavors.

  20. Rory says:

    Filip Bondy’s book about the last world cup qualifying has a chapter about the T&T game in Nashville… it’s title: Frankie Goes to Nashville.

    He was all determination and blue collar work ethic… and nobody got more out of their talent than Frankie.

  21. Frank says:

    He wasn’t…he just made his retirement official and has now joined the Crew FO. Go to the Columbus CRew website for more info.

  22. Pepe says:

    He was one of the greats

  23. drew11 says:

    Epic career. Missed flight to china, 2002 WC, bro’ing out in the stands at the 2006 WC, beating Mexico., etc., etc. He is part of US Soccer folklore no doubt.

  24. Navin J says:

    I only wish we could bottle his gusto and endurance and inject into all our players. Definitely the “fans” player and possibly the best locker room guy in usmnt history.

  25. PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo says:

    LOL. I showed that to a buddy who works at Starbucks HQ, he loved it!

    Two favorite memories. Getting tagged in the tunnel by the Mexico coach after celebrating…and the locker room writing with Bob Marley lyrics….I would love to have played with the guy…or just had a cup of coffee…

    He really should be coaching at some point, great personnel motivating guy, I’m sure.

  26. Colin says:

    Class act, my favorite us mens player, dude was all heart.

  27. pancholama says:

    Thank you Frankie for redefining hustle, commitment, positive attitude, and for your indefatigable “never give up” spirited team play and for representing our country so well so, so many times.
    You are a great light!
    A Hall of Fame US Soccer immortal.
    Thank you!

  28. Brad says:

    I am really disappointed in the SBI readers. Only 27 posts so far for Frankie? I would have expected A LOT more.

  29. FRANKIE ROCKS! says:

    Met Frankie at the stadium in Gelsenkirchen before US v. Czech Republic match during WC06. He was wearing his own USMNT jersey and just haning out waiting for the game to start — just like every other US fan anticipating the commencement of the world cup with high expectations. He was really nice and accommodating. Enjoyed seeing him finish out his career with the Galaxy on a high note. In my opinion, he and Cobi Jones set the bar very high when it comes to commitment to the team and leaving it all on the field. Thanks for the great memories Frankie!

  30. irishapple21 says:

    Now Frankie Hejduk can focus on his career as a GEICO caveman. Godspeed, Frankie!

  31. abc says:

    I thought Hejduk was already retired as of this year?

    Good luck to him, hope he stays involved in US soccer for a long time.

  32. supergrandefilms says:

    Frankie was AWESOME…!! Enough said.

  33. Kevin says:

    All time best scoring celebration. I wonder what song he had in his head while doing the goal dance.

    I will never forget the gritty performance that put him on the map vs. Germany in 1998. If I remember correctly, he had a crazy diving header that Kahn made an amazing save on. That was probably our only shot on goal.

  34. B 16 says:

    Game in 98 WC vs Germany-was easily the most dangerous American in that 2-0 loss-that performance got him signed in Germany.

  35. Optimist Primer says:

    Thank you Frankie Hejduk.
    Seriously.
    Thanks for the memories!

  36. EmorySoccer says:

    Bar none my favorite player ever. Coolest guy to ever put on the Stars & Stripes. Embodies what a true professional should be. Was a real shame he did not represent USA in the ’06 or ’10 World Cups. I will miss this guy. A LEGEND RETIRES.

  37. fuzzaud says:

    Happy he got one more award to his name before he retired. See you HeyDude!

  38. DeLarge says:

    Tons of heart. He will be missed, on the field and off.

  39. ANM says:

    It’s hard to believe now, but in 1997 there was serious debate over whether or not he should be part of the National team setup. Frankie was fast but undisciplined, the rap went, and couldn’t cross a ball to save his life. Often the best defense that his supporters could muster is that he would at least be fast enough to track back all the times when he would inevitably be out of position.

    The funny thing was that his detractors turned out to be kind of right. You winced every time he went for a tackle and even his spell at Leverkusen didn’t improve his crossing. But his virtues were so considerable that they always outweighed his vices. That desire to give it all for his team, that ability to come up with unexpected goals. And that speed…. I think it was Dan Loney (on some website or another) who said that Frankie’s greatest strength was the sheer illogic of his mad dashes forward; opposing left backs saw him approaching, his hair sweeping behind him like the mane of some bleached thoroughbred racehorse, and they thought “what the f**k is he doing?!”

    So many great Hejduk moments, but I’ll add another: his stepping in as left back against Portugal in Suwon in the 2002 Cup, when Arena reasoned that David Regis couldn’t deal with Sergio Concecao. “Hejduk at left back?” I said at 2:00 in the morning. “That’s crazy.” But in Frankie-world, crazy was always right, and he has a great game.

    A complete legend.

  40. PetedeLA says:

    Not only was he the best US player in ’98. He was the best player by a country mile.

    I’m sure he enjoyed his time at Leverkusen, but I can’t help but think it was unforutnate that he couldn’t find a club where he could get more PT.

    He would have been a perfect fit for Sankt Pauli, but c’est la vie.

    He’s definitely one of those guys who looks like he’s having fun every time he’s on the pitch.

    I wish him all the best in the next phase of his life.

  41. Artman says:

    Frankie Heydude was the spirit of American soccer in terms of attitude (on and off field!), hustle, and work ethic, I saw and enjoyed that in him all the way from UCLA’s North Soccer Field to the Galaxy’s HDC field last year….and of course everything in between.

  42. squirt-lover says:

    Easy skanking…easy skanking into the sunset…

  43. Mike says:

    I will always remember his game against Germany in 1998. I was only 14 years old, but it still sustains in my memory as one of the singularly best men’s performances. He played out of his mind that game, and it came to accentuate the “I-just-don’t-give-a-crap-who-these-guys-are” type of attitude that highlighted our national team back then.

    Now that we can pretty much hold our own against the world’s best, I kind of miss that old attitude…

  44. MensreaJim says:

    I loved that huge goal in San Salvador–that joyful celebration was just awesome. That was 2 years ago, but that seems like a good finale to his career along with his LAG title.

    A talented dude who made his mark more as a hustle guy later on–he will always be one of my favorites.

  45. MensreaJim says:

    Ha! 3 years. Time flies.

  46. Josh says:

    Best player on the ’98 team, and had a very good ’02 Cup as well. He was never the most technically accomplished player, and in that respect he’s typical of a lot of MLS-ers who began their careers in the late 90s.

    That said, HeyDude had tons of speed in an era where speed was the USMNT’s best (perhaps only?) weapon, he had a seriously underrated motor (I recall Wynalda saying that Nike or somebody did tests to see how quickly athletes from a variety of sports could oxygenate their bodies, and Heyduk came in second behind only Lance freaking Armstrong. That should give you a sense of the physical gifts he possessed that not many athletes have), and he ALWAYS left it all on the field. He oughta be a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame the first time he’s on the ballot.

    Best of luck wherever life takes you, HeyDude!!!!

  47. Zane says:

    Great guy and will be missed by the Nats and the Crew. His energy was always amazing.

  48. El-DudeMan says:

    blue collar? i dont think he’s from the steel belt. he’s a soCal boy. time to go surfing. it would be funny if that was just a stereotype and he actually hated surfing. kind of like beckermann never having smoked pot in his life. right

  49. Eugene says:

    American legend. Sad to see him go, but this day comes for everyone.

  50. solles says:

    I’m vaguely remembering that he almost didn’t have a USA career at all, didn’t he miss a flight to China for a friendly or something?

  51. solles says:

    That’s the game that got him into the German league for a few years.

  52. solles says:

    Frankie ain’t nobody’s anything, he’s just Frankie freaking Hejduk.

  53. Indigo Montoya says:

    Thank you, Mr. Hejduk. You were, and are, a boon to US Soccer. Congratulations on a brilliant career.

  54. Indigo Montoya says:

    skanin’ it easy…

  55. Indigo Montoya says:

    Friggin’ great moment – thank you.

  56. Indigo Montoya says:

    To read all of the comments…amazing, he embodied US Soccer and the love he receives is well deserved. Fantastic player. Good luck, Frankie, we’ll miss you.

  57. ak48 says:

    He did the best with what he had, which was jets for legs and brickbats for feet. Gave us a few flashes of life in ’98, all alone out on the right wing. At one point he admitted to a journalist that he never watched soccer ’cause it bored him — and it showed in the way he played, unfortunately. But hey, he hung in there for a nice long career, and definitely accumulated a lot of effort points along the way.

  58. Indigo Montoya says:

    This is all wrong. Of course he gave effort, but he didn’t lack skill. Saying “he hung in there” is a disgrace. “The Best with what he had” – yeah, he could shut down opponents and attack with his “jets for legs.” What the hell, do you even watch US soccer? this is absurd. I’m sorry, but the Billy Madison ‘we’re all dumber for having read this’ is applicable to this post.

  59. mcnelldr says:

    My favorite player of all time.

  60. Peretz48 says:

    Fittest player I’ve ever seen in a U.S. jersey. His beep tests were legend. Sitting in the stans with the fans was quintessential Heyduk. If you don’t have a grin from ear to ear when thinking about him then something’s wrong. Surf on, Dude!!!!

  61. Freegle says:

    Possibly one of the least talented footballers to ever play for the National Team…. and he can play on my squad anytime. A consummate professional, tireless worker, and the kind of teammate everyone loves. He did more with less than any player I can remember. Congrats, best wishes, and thanks for Frankie.

  62. Milt says:

    The Crew goal to ice the cup vs NY was unbelievable

  63. John says:

    Went into the ’98 Germany game with his shorts on BACKWARDS. Journalist asked him why after game; “rally cap dude, rally cap”. There will NEVER be another Heydude.

  64. Cromulent says:

    I thought the 2009 dos-a-cero might have been Frankie’s best Nats game. He broke up a basketful of Mex possessions. After that game you could still make a case for him on the 2010 roster. But not much longer.

  65. Frankie HED-ook says:

    His name is pronounced HED-ook. NOT hay-duke.

    HED-ook. That’s how it’s pronounced in the name’s native language.

  66. JJ says:

    fantastic player great in the lockeroom i hope to see him as an assistant or fitness coach

  67. Rags from DC says:

    Cheers Hey Dude! Great career, and service to US Soccer. You will be missed. Good luck in your next chapter.

  68. sir coble says:

    Great post.