Craig Forrest announces his retirement
Craig Forrest announces his retirement (tsn.ca)
(Jul 25) (CP) - Canadian star goalkeeper Craig Forrest, whose career was derailed by testicular cancer last fall, has been forced to retire from soccer. Forrest survived the cancer but says the disease has taken a toll on his professional career.
"It is with great regret that I have been advised to retire from football, but my medical advisers have told me I will be unable to maintain the necessary level of fitness to compete at the game's highest level," the 34-year-old Vancouver 'keeper was quoted Thursday by Britain's Press Association.
Forrest, who played professionally in England for West Ham and Ipswich Town, set the standard for Canadian goalkeepers. He played 56 times for Canada, posting 19 shutouts - both goalkeeping records.
He made his debut on May 25, 1988, in a 1-0 win over Chile. His final outing for Canada was a 2-0 loss to Cameroon on June 4, 2001, at the Confederations Cup in Japan. That defeat came two days after a brilliant performance in a 0-0 tie with world No. 2 Brazil.
"Craig Forrest is in a different class," head coach Holger Osieck said at the time.
The six-foot-five Forrest helped Canada book its ticket to the Confederations Cup with a marvellous performance in the 2000 Gold Cup. Forrest was voted MVP, most outstanding player and a tournament all-star as Canada defeated Colombia to win the CONCACAF championship.
He allowed only three goals in five games at the Gold Cup and stopped two penalty shots, including one in the final.
Forrest was a talisman for the Canadian national team. Players knew that if they made a mistake, their goalie would stand tall behind him. A big man, he moved with elegance and grace as he patrolled the penalty box.
Away from the field, Forrest room
ed with five-foot-eight forward Paul Peschisolido, forming an unlikely looking Mutt and Jeff duo.
His retirement opens the way for Edmonton's Lars Hirschfeld, currently a reserve with Tottenham in England, to take over as national team No. 1. Hirschfeld, 23, was named top goalkeeper at the 2002 Gold Cup, where Canada placed third.
Forrest joined Ipswich as an apprentice in 1985. He went on to make more than 300 appearances for the club before joining West Ham in 1997 after a short spell on loan at Chelsea.
He won the starting job from Ludek Miklosko at West Ham but returned to backup duty through injury and the club's decision to sign Shaka Hislop. The Hammers subsequently installed David James as their No. 1 'keeper, opting not to offer Forrest or Hislop new contracts after their deals expired at the end of last season.
The giant Canadian was not happy at that treatment, saying at the time he felt he was owed a chance to resume his career.
But there were only kind words Thursday as West Ham paid tribute to Forrest's contributions.
"Craig was a popular figure with the players, management and staff at the club and will be greatly missed," Paul Aldridge, West Ham's managing director, was quoted on the team's official Web site.
Injuries were a concern in recent years. In 2000, he need two sets of surgery to repair abdominal muscle problems.
West Ham and Ipswich will honour Forrest in a testimonial game some time in the future.
Forrest served as a TV analyst for TSN during the recent World Cup and says he would like to continue working in the media.