Frings: Classy To The End

26 February 3:32 pm

Frings: Classy To The End

By Asif Hossain

It comes as no surprise to anyone who knows Torsten Frings that the German legend and Toronto FC captain would be classy to the end.

When he announced his retirement on Tuesday, he did it because he knew he couldn’t contribute to a full season and in the MLS structure he can help his team more by stepping aside. Such is the selfless sacrifice fans expect from leaders and Frings didn’t disappoint, though many are disappointed to see him hang up his boots.

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My personal admiration for Frings has less to do with football.

Returning from Chicago on August 5, 2012, I was desperate not to miss the 100 meter final at the London Olympics. Reds lost 2-1 to the Fire the night before, finishing with nine players due to a red card and an injury. We had an early lead ruined by late goals, that old chestnut, though Frings was a warrior and according to the fans’ poll, our man of the match that night.

The mood was less than jovial when we landed at Pearson. I quickly stepped away from the team, found one of those kiosks disguised as a restaurant and had the TV channel changed to the big race. Unexpectedly, I was joined by Frings in the empty chair to my right. He was set to share a cab with then-TFC goalkeeper Milos Kocic but didn’t like the idea of a staff member sitting alone at the airport. If a World Cup finalist wants to watch the Olympics with me, even out of pity, who am I to object? Surely the prospects of seeing the world’s fastest man – Usain Bolt, not me (to clarify) – also piqued his curiosity.

The three of us watched Bolt win the gold, naturally talked a bit about football and our lives and then Frings insisted on covering the ride downtown. An international superstar, one of the greatest midfielders of his generation and my ride home. There are some perks to being in this business.

Frings takes care of his teammates, even the ones he isn’t immediately responsible for after a lousy flight following a heartbreaking loss. We would later learn that he was playing with a hip injury that would lead to season-ending surgery and subsequent retirement.

Frings will be severely missed wherever he has made his mark. Certainly in Toronto.