'I thought it would last forever': Canadian soccer star Julian de Guzman retires

Ottawa Fury FC captain Julian de Guzman, one of Canada's most decorated men's soccer players, has announced his retirement.

Played 89 matches for Canada's national squad, an all-time record

Julian de Guzman wipes his eyes as Ottawa Fury FC coach Paul Dalglish applauds during de Guzman's retirement announcement Jan. 30, 2017, in Ottawa. (CBC)

Julian de Guzman, the captain of the Canadian men's soccer team and one of the country's most accomplished players, has announced his retirement.

De Guzman made the announcement Monday afternoon in Ottawa, where the midfielder had been serving as the captain of Ottawa Fury FC.

"I never imagined I would come across a moment like this. I thought it would last forever, for the rest of my life," said an emotional de Guzman. 

​"It's never easy to let go of something you love so much. This sport has given me so many wonderful memories that will last me for the rest of my life."

Canada's Julian de Guzman kicks the ball away from Honduras' Antony Lozano during the first half of their World Cup qualifier soccer match in Toronto in 2012. De Guzman announced his retirement Monday. (Mike Cassese/Reuters)

Player of the year in 2008

The 35-year-old de Guzman is the most-capped member of the national team, having played in 89 matches since first joining the club in 2002.

De Guzman played in four different World Cup campaigns, and was named Canadian Player of the Year in 2008.

During his 17-year career, de Guzman played for teams in professional leagues in Germany, Spain, Greece, and the United States. He was the first Canadian to star in La Liga, the top Spanish soccer league, playing from 2005 to 2009 with Deportivo La Coruña.

The Toronto-born de Guzman returned to Canada in 2009 and ended up playing parts of four seasons with his hometown club Toronto FC.

He signed with Ottawa Fury FC in 2015, and will stay on with the club as its assistant coach and assistant general manager.

It wasn't a game for Julian. It was a way of life.- Paul Dalglish , Ottawa Fury FC head coach

"When you hear him talk, and the amount of passion that he's got for the game, you realize it wasn't a game for Julian. It was a way of life," said Paul Dalglish, the Fury's head coach and general manager.

"If he can instill that same passion into our players, in his role as an assistant coach, then the future's going to be very bright."

The club says it plans to honour de Guzman during the upcoming 2017 season.

CBC News