Atlético Ottawa captain Drew Beckie is hanging up his boots after a playing career that spanned more than a decade and saw him compete across North America and for the Canadian men’s youth national teams.
“I feel like I came at it with a very mature decision making process, I’ve thought about it as the year has gone on,” Beckie told CanPL.ca. “I’ve had a great career, I played a lot of games, but when I looked at where I could be most useful, or where I could make the most impact going forward, I think starting a new career was where it was at, I want to help the players in a different capacity.
“I very much took the decision as a cost benefit analysis, and said ‘Where can I be most effective? Where’s the most bang for my buck now?’ I loved playing the game, and always loved playing the game, but it was time to move on to different things.”
Beckie posted a message on social media on Saturday announcing his decision.
“My time has come to step away from the game. Thanks for the memories,” he captioned the post on Twitter and Instagram. What followed was an outpouring of support from across Canada and North America, and even as far as Qatar, where his sister, Canadian women’s national team star Janine Beckie is currently doing TV analysis during the World Cup for TSN.
My time has come to step away from the game. ❤️⚽️ thanks for the memories. pic.twitter.com/qnrO87HqM9
— Drew Beckie (@DrewBeckie) December 3, 2022
Beckie told CanPL.ca that he felt the love, and appreciates people taking the time to reach out to him.
“That’s the best part of the game, that I’ve been able to cultivate so many different relationships around the world,” he said. “I tried to hide it on a Saturday night, and not alert too many people that I was going to say something or that I was going to retire, but it really means a lot.
“I have so many great friends, so many very close people around, some fans that have reached out to me that have been supportive of Atlético Ottawa, or anywhere else I played in my career, and that really means a lot to me. That’s the best part.”
Beckie’s decision to retire comes after a year in which Atlético Ottawa went from eighth place in 2021 to regular season champions and North Star Shield runners up in 2022.
It was his third stint in the nation’s capital after two previous tenures with the Ottawa Fury, where he first signed on loan in 2012. Beckie looks back fondly at how much the sport has grown in Ottawa over the past 10 years
“I don’t know if I’ve done a lot of reflecting on how far we’ve come, but I know that people have been integral to that journey, and they’ve put in a lot of time and effort.
“Even though it didn’t work out for (Atlético’s inaugural head coach) Mista, in the long run, he was integral to starting that. He had a lot of patience with the project, and he put a lot of time and energy every night looking at different data, looking at the video analysis. [Atlético’s CEO Fernando Lopez] has put in countless hours. People in the front office, the players that have come and gone, they all had a role in that, and now to see the project that (current head coach Carlos Gonzalez) and his staff have created along with the additions that we had made this year, it’s a very special thing.”
Beckie made it very clear that he’s excited to see how Atletico Ottawa continues to grow in the coming years. He’s also excited to see how the Canadian Premier League as a whole will evolve.
He came to the CPL later in his career, as some Canadian players have, but the league’s primary aim is to develop young players and give them a platform to advance their careers. Beckie is a firm believer that with investment, the league will become an attractive destination for players and improve the Canadian national team.
“We’re here to make the development of Canadian players better and bring an opportunity to Canadian players that wasn’t there before, and then to help the national team get better.
“You’ve seen it with Japan, you’ve seen it with South Korea, and Australia. Those are three … countries that have invested heavily into their own domestic leagues, and have now seen the success of that going on deeper into the World Cup. We have all the facilities, the league now, and the investment to do that. So what can we see for 2026? What can we see for 2030? It’s an exciting time.”
One of the memories that stands out to Beckie is his last time at TD Place as an active player, the 2022 Canadian Premier League final between Atlético Ottawa and Forge FCon October 30.
That match didn’t end the way that he and his club were hoping for. Beckie watched from the bench as Forge won 2-0. But the day was memorable for another reason, as 15,000 fans packed into the stadium to watch the game in Ottawa. It was the biggest crowd in club history, and an historic day in Canadian soccer.
“Even though I couldn’t contribute on the field, to be able to see that and to see how many fans came from Hamilton … Man, what an atmosphere it was,” Beckie said. “That’s the next step, that’s going to be the minimum now. Can we sell out TD place? Can we sell out Tim Hortons Field? Wherever the final is.
“There’s so many opportunities now with the national team doing so well, Canadian players getting bought and going overseas, players leaving the CPL. Man, I’m really excited to see where it goes.”
Beckie joked that he never had the trophy-filled career that some players are fortunate to have. But as his playing days come to an end, it’s the lifelong relationships made that he will cherish the most.
“I’m very honoured that people have left comments saying that it was an honour to play with you, it was an honour to know you and to still know you. That’s my legacy,” he reflected. “Every interaction, I tried to make it a very special one to try to get to know that person on a personal, specific and particular level. Sometimes on the field, I can be a different person, I was a different person, I was intense.
“I got a lot of yellow cards, and this year I leave with two red cards in my whole career that I’ve never had gotten before,” he added with a big smile on his face. “That’s not who I am, I am a very happy guy. I want to help people if they need help.
“I’m there to help in any way that I can, and I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to be around the game. I’m just not on the field.”