Connor Lade
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

A player favorite, a fan favorite, a tireless worker and a one-club man, Connor Lade retires from professional soccer as a New York Red Bulls legend.

“Connor Lade is my favorite player and the reason I am a New York Red Bulls supporter. I am honestly so happy for him that he was able to have such an amazing career. Remembering seeing him get a goal right in front of me five years ago at the first match I had been to–I knew I wanted to be a Red Bulls supporter.

“I am forever grateful for all he has done for this club and for all the friends and memories I’ve made since that first match. I’m also proud to say that I have a tattoo of the player that will forever be a Red Bull,” a passionate Red Bulls supporter, Angela Rivera, posted on her Facebook account on Wednesday, the day Connor Lade announced his retirement.

He had a huge impact on the fans.

“I enjoyed being your teammate, to be honest, you’re one of the best teammates I’ve ever had. You brought an infectious energy to training every single day that really brought the spirit of the team up every time,” former RBNY captain Sacha Kljestan said in a video the club posted on Twitter dedicated to Lade.

Kljestan is a midfielder with international experience, who played for five different clubs and has been a professional for 14 years.

Moreover, four of the 11 players who congratulated Lade on his retirement in the video said the 29-year-old was one of the best teammates they’ve ever played with.

He had a huge impact on his teammates.

“We all know that this organization is a better place now that you’ve come through it than before,” New York captain Luis Robles added.

He made a huge impact on the club.

Lade isn’t one of the best players who ever wore a Red Bull jersey, nor the tallest, but he’s definitely one of the best teammates, one of the most hardworking, loyal and lovable players the club ever had.

As Kljestan put it, Connor Lade is “a true New York Red Bulls legend.”

It’s very rare to see a group of players calling one other player the best teammates they’ve ever had on any team in any sports, especially boxing.

What made Lade such a great teammate?

First of all, he’s a fun guy to be around.

“Your personality was infectious and you were really the heart and soul of the locker room,” RBNY keeper Ryan Meara said.

He could be trusted on.

“He’s just a guy that you can always count on and trust and that’s very important in the locker room and especially in a club like ours,” Red Bulls midfielder Sean Davis told Pro Soccer USA reporter Dylan Butler about Lade.

Furthermore, the defender played his heart out at practice and during games no matter what the score was. Even when he wasn’t on the pitch, he still gave his heart.

“He’s a guy that shows up with positive energy day in and day out, regardless of the situation, regardless of whether he’s playing, regardless of whether the team’s winning,” Davis stated.

Of course, his energy was contagious. Lade only netted two MLS goals and wasn’t a constant starter but he played an important role in The Metros’ three Supporters’ Shields, the club’s only three major trophies.

His teammates were fond of him.

“The way that he sacrifices for this team. He’s a real leader. He’s a real team player. I just love the guy,” Daniel Royer told Butler.

Not only the players, but the Red Bulls fans couldn’t get enough of Lade either. What did he do to win the fans’ hearts? So much that Angela Rivera even claimed to have a tattoo of him.

Fans love players who play their socks off every game and who they can have genuine interactions with. That’s Lade in a nutshell.

RBNY supporter Tiffany Giovia shared how the New Jersey native was a fan favorite at the club’s events:

Something else that won the fan’s hearts is that Lade was a one-club man.

The defender joined New York’s academy as a senior in high school and was later promoted to the first team as a 22-year-old. Lade’s dream was to finish his career with the Red Bulls, his hometown team.

That dream surely came true.

“I am so grateful to the New York Red Bulls for the past eight seasons,” Lade said via the team’s website.

“It was my goal to start and finish my career with this club and I feel very fortunate to do so. From the three Supporters’ Shields to the numerous lifelong friendships, I will always be indebted to the club that has given me so much.”

Eight years with his beloved hometown team, now what?

Perhaps a golf career. Bradley Wright-Phillips joked, saying that he’s looking forward to seeing Lade in the PGA Tour and Mike Grella also stated that he’s waiting to see him in the golf course in the Happy Retirement video.

Originally from Haiti, Ralph 'Onz' Chery started his writing career as a City College of New York student with The Campus. He also wrote for First Touch, the Cosmopolitan Soccer League and other local leagues. After graduating, Onz started covering the New York Red Bulls for ESNY and joined Haitian Times.