Top CPL Midfielder Joao Morelli Announces Retirement
After cementing himself as one of the top footballers ever to grace the Canadian Premier League in its fledgling years, Brazilian midfielder Joao Morelli has announced his retirement.
Morelli suited up 43 times for the Halifax Wanderers since signing in 2020, recording 24 goals and two assists throughout all competitions.
A season-ending injury looked to have curtailed his career last year, with many having not expected the midfielder to return to the pitch at all – but he was cleared to play this summer, bagging four goals in nine appearances before an injury finished off this season, too.
The 27-year-old retires with a 2021 CPL MVP Award and a golden boot trophy to his name, ultimately finishing with a league tally of 22 goals – making him the all-time leading goalscorer for the Halifax Wanderers, and the joint-fifth highest in the league itself after his four years out east.
“It’s a mix of emotions. It was really hard to make that decision, but I’m happy overall,” Morelli revealed to CanPL.ca.
“I’m sure that it’s the right decision, I have to take care of my son and he’s the priority right now. Staying home is the best option for my family. I’m happy for everything I’ve done in football, so everything’s good.”
The Itu, Brazil native told league brass that his arrival to fatherhood was a key element in his decision to retire, with Morelli returning home to his native Brazil to raise his family.
The Halifax Wanderers talisman has been quite vocal about his love for Canada’s east coast, saying that he’ll miss what Halifax introduced to his life.
“You can’t even explain, you have to live it to understand it,” Morelli had said earlier this year. “The city’s amazing, the people there. I’ve said this before, they’re really nice. I feel like Halifax is my home, too.” I miss it to be honest; I love Brazil, but I have something there that I love and I want to be there so bad. I hope my family now enjoys it as I do.”
While Morelli won’t feature at Wanderers Grounds again as a player, he told club brass that he’s one-hundred-percent going to be there to watch a match with his son when they get that new stadium.
“That’s a place and people I’ll remember forever, for sure.”
Once hailed by Brazilian legend Juninho as one to watch the future, the creative midfielder departs after playing a key role in the club’s early years. Prior to his final playing chapter out east, he signed with English Championship side Middlesbrough in 2015, featuring regularly for the U-23 squad before a loan spell in Estonia.
Later landing with League One side Fleetwood Town on a free transfer, Morelli then bounced between Estonia and his native Brazil before signing with Halifax, where the rest – as they say – is history.