SAN DIEGO – Sal Zizzo knows the right time to walk away. In fact, the defender has done it before in 2019 while playing for Atlanta United FC. That was before Landon Donovan and the San Diego Loyal came calling.
Three years later, the San Diego native — and the first player to sign with the Loyal — has decided to call it quits again and this time it’s for good.
Zizzo, 34, appears more relaxed than most players who hang up the cleats. It’s likely because he came to the conclusion earlier than the public knew and informed his teammates of the decision early in the season.
“I basically sat them down before practice and just kind of told them where my head was at and that it would be my final season,” Zizzo said.
That means his 15-year career officially is coming to a close. But retirement is no easy decision, so he turned to Donovan, who retired from the sport three different times, to talk about leaving the pitch.
“He had mentioned some of his past experiences and how when he was able to tell his team early on,” Zizzo said. “He was kind of able to enjoy the rest of the season knowing that it was going to be his last and kind of felt a weight off his shoulders.”
From the birth of his kids to playing in front of his friends and family, Zizzo created a long list of special memories with the Loyal, including some not every player gets to experience.
He isn’t sure of his post-retirement plans, but says he would like to stay with the Loyal in some capacity.
“Obviously he’s not played on the field as much this season but his experience has definitely helped the team,” Loyal midfielder Jack Blake said.
He left Atlanta with an MLS Cup on his resume. Could there be a more fitting sendoff than bringing the USL Championship title to his hometown team?
“We all have the belief here,” Zizzo said. “It’s going to take some hard work. Fingers crossed we can get the job done and get a home playoff game ‘cause that’s going to be a huge boost to our odds.”