Former Ottawa, York United Midfielder Chris Mannella Announces Retirement
Canadian midfielder Chris Mannella has confirmed his retirement from professional football after spending the last season outside of it.
The 29-year-old midfielder is best-known for his days with the Ottawa Fury, for whom he accumulated 48 appearances during their NASL chapter before later returning through the club’s successor, Atletico Ottawa.
“As a kid you never think this day will come but, well, here we are,” said Mannella online. “The time come to officially hang up the boots. This game has been my entire life for as long as I can even remember and it’s given me more than I ever could have dreamed of. It’s given me life long friendships and memories that I can look back on and only be happy about.”
Manella’s professional career career began with Toronto FC in 2014 after he impressed with the MLS side’s academy, becoming the tenth homegrown player in club history. Loaned to TFC II, he spent two years with the reserve side before his hometown club confirmed it would not exercise its option on him.
During his spell with TFC, Manella – by then a highly-rated Canada U-23 prospect – also accrued three Canadian men’s national team appearances in 2015, featuring in back-to-back friendlies against Iceland and a win over Guatemala.
A gap year in League1 Ontario with Vaughan Azzurri preceded a return to professional heights with the Ottawa Fury, where he broke into the NASL squad and achieving a high 85.7% pass completion rate over two seasons before the club ceased operations.
At that point he was already in negotiations with York United, who inked the defensive-minded midfielder to a contract ahead of the condensed Island Games season. Unfortunately, an injury then limited his influence to two matches, after which he secured a move back to the nation’s capital with Atletico Ottawa.
His first season saw him feature fairly regular under head coach Mista, finishing with two assists and 19 appearances. Under Gonzalez, however, Mannella’s future there was always in doubt after he cracked just 90 minutes through six appearances, and he left at the end of his two-year deal.
His time with Otletti also saw him become an outspoken champion for the Playing For Pride campaign, stating that the football world has a part to play in creating a secure environment for the LGBTQ+ community.
His last appearance against professional opposition came earlier this year, when he reprised his role with Vaughan Azzuri for a Canadian Championship clash against CF Montreal.
“Thank you to everyone who’s been a part of my journey. It’s been an absolute pleasure and I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” concluded the midfielder.
Mannella didn’t state what the next chapter of his career would be, so it remains to be seen if the former homegrown TFC baller will remain in the game that allowed him to play professional for the bulk of his playing days.