CHICAGO – American midfielder Stuart Holden is retiring from soccer, unable to recover from knee injuries that have sidelined him for most of the past four years.
The 30-year-old, who had a breakout season with Bolton in England's Premier League during 2010-11, issued a statement Wednesday on the U.S. Soccer Federation website.
"It's time to stop fighting my body," Holden said. "I've known for a while, but I've struggled to admit it to myself and to others. The countless sleepless nights, the aches and pains, and the constant mental battles were all signs pointing to a new path. But every time I was about to utter the three big words 'I am retired,' all the memories of walking into roaring stadiums, scoring last-minute goals and being part of amazing teams dragged me back!
"The same never-say-die attitude that drove me to fight like hell my entire career wouldn't let me say the 'R word.'"
Holden had three goals in 25 appearances for the U.S. national team and scored against Japan in the Americans' opener at the 2008 Olympics. He played for Major League Soccer's Houston Dynamo from 2006-09.
His injury troubles began when his right leg was broken by Nigel de Jong's tackle during the Americans' exhibition game at the Netherlands in March 2010. Holden returned to make the U.S. World Cup roster and he appeared as a late substitute in the Americans' opener against England.
Holden's left knee was injured by Manchester United defender Jonny Evans in March 2011, which left a gash that required 26 stitches to close. Holden returned from surgery for a League Cup match against Aston Villa that September, then needed surgery eight days later to repair cartilage damage.
Holden came back again in January 2013 to make three substitute appearances for Bolton, four starts during a one-month loan to Sheffield Wednesday and another short substitute stint for Bolton.
He rejoined the U.S. national team as a substitute in an exhibition against Belgium on May 29, then played extensively in the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup before tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament during the final against Panama.
That was his last senior team appearance. His final comeback was in an under-21 match for Bolton on March 3, 2014, and Holden was in discomfort when he fell to the turf in the 23rd minute. He underwent another right knee operation and never played again.
"Certain memories are always at the front of my mind: representing the USA in the Olympics and a World Cup, two MLS Cup championships with the Houston Dynamo, the last minute goal against Haiti, and how could I ever forget the pure elation of scoring the stoppage time winner for Bolton against Blackburn?" he said.
Holden has been working for Fox as an analyst in its soccer coverage. His wife, the former Karalyn West, gave birth to their first child this week, Kennady Rose Holden.