SALT LAKE CITY — The Maestro is calling it a career.
Former Real Salt Lake star Javier Morales announced his retirement from professional soccer Thursday, bringing to a close a two-decade career that spanned his native Argentina, Spain and Major League Soccer.
“This year would have been my 20th year playing as a professional soccer player,” Morales wrote on Twitter. “It’s been a very long journey. I have fulfilled many dreams and some I haven’t, but without a doubt, it has been the dream of my life.
“Thanks to all the clubs that gave me the opportunity to be part of their history.”
Morales spent 10 years with Real Salt Lake from 2007 to 2016, but he left in a bitter breakup that played out in public after a standout career that included the 2009 MLS Cup title.
I DREAMED, LOVED, AND ENJOYED WITH THE DEPTHS OF MY BEING, BUT IT'S TIME TO LET GO........... pic.twitter.com/J9tzbZuOsR— Javier Morales (@javi_mo11) April 12, 2018
He seemed to reconcile the move in a return to Utah with FC Dallas in May 2017, but he did not enter the match as a sub.
Morales' option was declined by FC Dallas following the 2017 season, though he remained in the area of the Frisco, Texas-based team for the start of the 2018 season and made a few appearances at training sessions. He last made $590,000 in base salary, according to contract information submitted by the MLS Players’ Union in 2016.
The longtime face of Real Salt Lake, the Argentine No. 10 was considered one of the best creative attacking midfielders in MLS, unlocking any defense with a well-played through-ball and scoring 45 goals in 211 league appearances.
Forever our Maestro, forever family. Thank you for everything, Javi! pic.twitter.com/4QKyGEDCAs— Real Salt Lake (@RealSaltLake) April 12, 2018
He scored at least eight times every year from 2013-2016.
A three-time MLS All-Star, Morales is still RSL’s all-time leader in career assists with 81. He had five assists in 2009, when he, Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando famously brought the first top-level pro championship to the state of Utah since the Utah Stars won the title of the now-defunct American Basketball Association.
"Our RSL teams would never have gone to such heights without (Morales) pulling the strings,' said former RSL teammate Nat Borchers, a center back on the '09 Cup-winning team that finished his career with the Portland Timbers. "Incredible player, amazing teammate."
Prior to signing with RSL in 2007, the 38-year-old Morales played for UD Vecindario in Spain’s second division and boasted four clubs in the Argentine first division, including two separate stints with Lanus and Arsenal de Sarandi.
During his time in Utah, Morales became a fan favorite. His son Santiago was born and raised in the streets of Salt Lake City, and he frequently referred to his new hometown as more than a place where he played futbol while taking young Santi to RSL training sessions at America First Field in Sandy.
“Who knows when is the right time or the right place to retire,” he said. “But it’s the best way, without regrets. I have given it my all and I have enjoyed every moment from the depth of my soul. I’m retiring in peace.
“I don’t know what the future holds for me, but whatever I do will be related to soccer, this time from another side of the field.”