Featured / MLS / Union

Vejlko Paunovic announces retirement

Photo: Daniel Gajdamowicz

The Philadelphia Union announced today that 34-year-old Serbian striker Veljko Paunovic has called an end to his 16 year professional career.

In the press release from the Union announcing his retirement, Paunovic praised both the Union fans and the Union organization.

“I want to thank the great Union family for welcoming me from the very first day that I came here,” said Paunovic. “I’ve been so many places around the world and I have never felt as happy as I have been here.  It is with great sadness that I announce my retirement from soccer due to family reasons but I will never forget the Union fans and the atmosphere at PPL Park every game.  I have proudly worn the Union Jersey wherever we have played throughout the country and I will always feel like a Union ‘soldier’ wherever I am in the world.  I also wanted to give a special thanks to my teammates, coaching staff, CEO & Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz, Diego Gutierrez, and all the employees that work so hard for all of us. I especially would like to thank Peter Nowak, who gave me this opportunity. His knowledge of soccer and great ability to lead the team have taught me so much.  I am deeply grateful to everyone associated with Philadelphia Union.”

Paunovic scored 86 goals while playing in over 400 matches in five countries during his career. With the Union in 2011, Paunovic scored three goals and three assists in 16 starts after joining the club in June. He made 17 appearances for the club and fought off a late season injury to appear in the Union’s second playoff game against the Houston Dynamo.

“We are all very grateful that Veljko joined our club and helped us in a very important stage of our season,” said Philadelphia Union Team Manager Peter Nowak. “He’s been a top professional both on and off the field since he arrived and throughout his stay he has made the Union a better club. We understand that family is more important than anything and, as much we are all sad to see him go and that we are losing such a great guy, we will always cherish his time with us. We wish Veljko and his family the very best.”

In a year where the Union were lacking in aerial prowess and physicality in the front line, Paunovic quickly endeared himself to the PPL faithful with his gritty, hard-working style, attacking every ball that came his way and throwing his body around with reckless abandon.

With the announcement earlier today that Levi Houapeu and Joe Tait had been released by the Union, the news of Paunovic’s retirement now means the Union are compliant with league rules for the number of internationals on  the roster. Meanwhile, the status of Keon Daniel, who was unable to return to the US due to “visa issues” after returning home to Trinidad & Tobago, remains unclear.

The folks here at the PSP would like to thank Pauno for his contributions and wish him the best of luck in his future pursuits.


One Comment

  1. I’ll admit I wasn’t a huge fan at first, but he proved me wrong with solid, gutsy play, a few key goals and being an absolute gentleman. Best of luck, Pauno!

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