Toronto FC midfielder Benoît Cheyrou formally announced his retirement on Thursday after 19 seasons as a professional football player. Cheyrou will remain with Toronto FC within the Toronto FC Academy.
During his time with Toronto FC, the Frenchman helped guide the Reds to a historic 2017 season, where the club won the MLS Cup, MLS Supporters’ Shield and the Canadian Championship along with setting a league record for points in a single season with 69. In addition, he was part of the club’s Canadian Championship winning side (2016) and two Eastern Conference Playoff Championships (2016, 2017). Cheyrou scored a memorable extra-time goal in the second leg of the 2016 MLS Cup Eastern Conference semi-finals against the Montreal Impact, which put TFC ahead 4-3. Cheyrou was also awarded the 2016 George Gross Memorial Trophy as Canadian Championship MVP. He originally joined Toronto FC on January 29, 2015 and spent the past three seasons with the club. He made a combined 68 appearances, scoring five goals, adding nine assists across all competitions (MLS league play, MLS playoffs and the Canadian Championship).
“It has been an absolute pleasure for me to be a part of this team for three years. I am blessed to finish my career with the Treble and I am very proud of that,” said Cheyrou. “I would like to thank everyone at the club and in the wonderful city of Toronto that have supported me during my time at Toronto FC. I will now be the biggest fan of Toronto FC and I wish the club all the best.”
Prior to joining Toronto FC, Cheyrou spent the first 16 years of his playing career in France. He leaves the game having won the Ligue 1 title (2009-10) and three consecutive Coupe de la Ligue titles (2010, 2011, 2012) with Olympique de Marseille (Marseille). He also captured the Ligue 2 title (1999–2000) with Lille Olympique Sporting Club (Lille) and a Coupe de France (2005) with Association de la Jeunesse Auxerroise (AJ Auxerre).
Cheyrou began his youth career at Racing Club de France, making him the third generation of the Cheyrou family to train at the club joining both his grandfather and father. He went on to join the youth system at Lille before signing with the First Team for the 1999-2000 season. At Lille, Cheyrou helped the side gain promotion into Ligue 1, after winning the Ligue 2 title in 1999-00. He scored his first professional goal shortly after being substituted into the match during a 3-0 victory over Marseille on October 5, 2002. Cheyrou continued to be a key part of the club, helping to lead Lille into European competition, including qualification for the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup before departing for AJ Auxerre (Auxerre) ahead of the 2004-05 season. In his first season, Cheyrou helped lead Auxerre to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup, where they lost to Russian club CSKA Moscow. Later that season, the club defeated Sedan to claim the 2005 Coupe de France title. Cheyrou was named club captain for the 2006-07 season, which would end up being his last at the club, finishing with a combined 113 appearances, with eight goals and nine assists. In the summer of 2007, Marseille reached a transfer agreement with Auxerre for Cheyrou. During the 2007-08 season, Cheyrou helped lead Marseille to a third-place finish in Ligue 1, playing alongside French international Samir Nasri in midfield. That same season, Marseille also upset Liverpool at Anfield during the UEFA Champions League, a match where Cheyrou played the full 90 minutes. Cheyrou and Marseille progressed into finishing second in Ligue 1 for the 2008-09 season; before winning the league the following season. In seven seasons with Marseille, he made 304 combined appearances in Ligue 1, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup/Europa League, Coupe de France, and Coupe de la Ligue matches. He has also added 28 goals and 42 assists.
Cheyrou has represented France at the U-19, U-20, and U-21 levels during his career, highlighted by winning the UEFA European U-19 Football Championship in 2000.