The Kansas City Comets announced on Friday that longtime Comets defender Stefan Stokic has retired from playing professional indoor soccer, but will remain with the team as an assistant coach.
This news comes just days after longtime Comet midfielder Lucas Rodriguez announced his retirement.
The Comets said the ageless wonder was planning on playing this season, but was forced into early retirement after tearing ACL in a recent practice.
“I could have rehabbed and come back next year, but I have a family now, so retirement seemed like the best choice for them and me,” said Stokic via press release. “I know that I left everything I had on the field when I played, and I want to coach that same mentality into these young guys on the team and help the Comets win in a different way now.”
Stokic, a graduate of Park University, began his indoor career with the Kansas City Comets under head coach Zoran Savic (now Sporting KC assistant coach) for their final season in 2004/05 before folding. After a year off, Stokic returned to indoor soccer, playing with the New Jersey Ironmen for the 2007/08 season. Stokic returned to Kansas City when the Comets relaunched in 2010/11, where he spent the final 10 seasons of his career.
A native of Belgrade, Serbia, Stokic played in 169 games for the modern Comets, where he scored 21 goals and recorded 30 assists. Stokic spent time as both a defender and a forward, but was probably the most defensive forward around.
Known for his incredible shot-blocking abilities, Stokic was a staple of the Comets franchise throughout the past decade and was apart of the organization’s MISL Championship in 2014.
After the Comets overturned a seven-goal deficit last season, former Comets head coach and current USWNT head coach, Vlatko Andonovski, stated, “When I coached the team, I’d say that we can win games without any player on the team except two: Stefan Stokic and John Sosa. If those two don’t play, our chances diminish rapidly. And we had some good players, Leo (Gibson), Vahid (Assadpour), Lucas (Rodriguez), Geison, but without those two, I would not start a game.”
The retirement of Stokic now means that Leo Gibson is the only remaining member of the original 2010/11 Comets team still playing with the organization.
While Stokic didn’t win many accolades, he always left absolutely everything on the field and was an unsung hero throughout his career. While Stokic will be a great addition to the coaching staff, losing his on-field presence is going to be tough to fill.