The Minnesota Stars press release couldn’t have said it any better:
Chants of “You’ll never beat Joe Warren” will no longer pour from the stands and beer garden at the National Sports Center Stadium. NSC Minnesota Stars goalkeeper Joe Warren announced his retirement Thursday after 13 seasons of professional soccer in his native Minnesota.
Joe Warren after a home victory against FC Tampa Bay. Photo by Jeremy Olson -www.digitalgopher.net
Warren spent 12 seasons between the posts for the Minnesota Thunder before retiring in 2006. He chose to leave the game citing his daughter Veronica’s birth as one of the reasons. Last year Warren’s wife gave birth to their second daughter Evelyn.
“Something else happened last summer that dwarfed the successes on the field, and that was the birth of my second daughter,” Warren said. “I am now in the unique position of being able to stay home with Veronica and Evelyn during the day and pass along my passion for the beautiful game on evenings and weekends through the various clinics I run.”
Warren was asked to come out of retirement last winter while working for the National Sports Center in other capacities. It took some coaxing but eventually he made the decision and was one of the first members signed to the team that grew from the ashes of the Thunder.
After not playing professionally for 3 years, the Minnesota goalkeeper looked rusty at times in preseason training. But Warren worked tirelessly in training to shake the cobwebs. He looked to be the backup keeper for Louis Crayton when the season started, but the Liberian tore his ACL minutes before the end of the first half of the Stars’ season opener in Vancouver. Warren was called into action and continued his improvement through the early months of the season, earning him praise from around the league.
Signs pointed to the fact that the old Joe Warren that many Thunder fans once knew was back again when he faced three penalty kicks in three separate games and stopped them all. Soon Minnesota fans christened the 36-year-old keeper who was now the father of two, “Papa Joe” Warren. The name stuck and it seemed to be one Warren wore with pride.
Beyond Warren’s athleticism and his hulking 6’4″, 225 lb. presence in the net was his leadership and experience on the field. Clearly it was one of the key reasons the Stars made it to the playoffs in their inaugural season. He logged in 2181 minutes last season and saw action in 25 games.
“Joe really dedicated himself to getting the Minnesota Stars off the ground last season,” said Stars head coach Manny Lagos. “He did that individually with his work rate but he also committed himself to not only our training sessions but doing double sessions, getting fit and back into the level he wanted to play at which was a high level. It was very impressive because there was really an unknown if he could come back and be the player he once was. He went in fighting for a starting spot which he didn’t win right away. Circumstances changed and he stepped up and had a tremendous year because of his commitment. I really think he showed last season the goalkeeper he was in the past. And what he was last year was the real Joe.”
“It was a really great year for him and for the team also because of his leadership. It’s going to be a big hole for us to fill this year, there’s no doubt about it. We are going to think long and hard about how to deal with his loss.”
To read Joe Warren’s complete press statement concerning his retirement, please see the NSC Minnesota Stars blog.
For a complete photo gallery of Joe’s encore 2010 season Jeremy Olson of Digital Gopher.net has put this together in honor of Joe.