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Morning links: ‘End brings peace and understanding’ for retiring RSL defender Tony Beltran

Real’s Tony Beltran (left) battles for the ball with L.A.’s Mike Magee on May 6, 2009.
Real’s Tony Beltran (left) battles for the ball with L.A.’s Mike Magee on May 6, 2009.
Stuart Johnson, Deseret News

Soccer fans hoping to see Real Salt Lake’s Tony Beltran play again got some bittersweet news from him on Sunday.

The longtime RSL standout defender is retiring from soccer.

Beltran, who’s tried to rehab his way back from an injury, shared that news in an emotional and beautiful post and video on the team’s website.

“The end of this season marks 12 years that I have been a part of Real Salt Lake. It will also be my last,” Beltran wrote. “I arrived in this city at the age of 20; foolish, confident, and ready to make my mark in the soccer world. I never gave any thought to the possibility of staying here my whole career.

“A small excitement to see snow, sure, but setting or season were mere backdrop to the primary focus. As they say, I was here to play ball. And now I sit in my kitchen, reflecting on the journey, a physical relic of my former self, grasping at emotions as I try to convey the good and the bad of it all. And that’s just it, from here all I see is good. How lucky I’ve been, how fortunate and thankful I feel. Real Salt Lake and Salt Lake City have given me a new definition of life.”

Utah is where Beltran met his wife after being drafted third overall in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft, where he created a family and made lifelong friends and bonds — including with RSL fans — in what he calls “a community now synonymous with home.” He never dreamed that would happen a dozen years ago.

“I suppose that’s what makes this whole ordeal easier to handle,” he added. “When you pit one against the other, a knee and a career are a simple trade for a life and a home. …

“The end brings peace and understanding. All those nights chasing shadows in the dark, they were leading me where I was meant to be. To the most beautiful place on earth, home.”

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