I hoped that this day wouldn’t come this year, that it wouldn’t come for years, plural.
Even as I was waiting for the hammer to drop, for Minnesota United to announce that they had declined the contract option of Jérôme Thiesson, I hoped that I had heard wrong, that something would change. But it didn’t, and here we are.
Midway through the 2017 season, I wrote an article, titled “Why I’m Jerome Thiesson’s biggest fan,” about how Jerry had quickly become my favorite Loon. It all started at his first training session, which also happened to be the first training session that I covered.
I hadn’t interacted with too many professional athletes before that frigid March day, so when the newest Loon came up and introduced himself to me, I was shocked by how much of an impact that first impression could leave.
I won’t touch on Jerry’s on-the-field performances much here, because they pale in comparison to the way he conducted himself off-the pitch. He was a constant fixture last season but battled injuries and struggled to secure a starting spot in 2018, ultimately setting the stage for his departure.
He greatly impressed me after one of his season lows, when he conceded a penalty in the Loons’ loss to the lowly San Jose Earthquakes. I asked Jerry after the game about the penalty decision, fully expecting him to mirror the attitude of his manager and teammates in slamming the referee. I should have known that Jerry wouldn’t give the typical athlete response.
“I was the right call,” he said. “I apologize to all my teammates.”
A classy answer from a classy guy.
Jerry immersed himself in all things Minnesota while here, embracing our sports teams as his own. A look through his Twitter or Instagram feeds reveal that he enjoyed a good Wild or Wolves game. On social media, some of his humble personality showed.
Luckily I didn‘t apply for it with this picture big thank you to everybody involved @MNUFC ( @Blaker13 ) and my agent @StoneSportsMgmt for this opportunity that we appreciate and value! #usa #minnesota #thanksforhavingus #familythiesson https://t.co/fl1NfTJfpe— Jérôme Thiesson (@j_thiesson) July 14, 2018
Now let’s go back to that column I wrote about him last summer.
Jerry also reached out to me after the article, saying it was the nicest thing ever written about him and that he was shocked and humbled by the piece. I didn’t think his standing could rise any higher for me, but it did.
At United’s new training field on the campus of the National Sports Center, there’s a cordoned-off section reserved for media to watch open parts of practice. That area is right next to the entrance, so players are consistently walking past.
Not Jerry though. He would frequently pause to say “hi” to media members, or at the least, send a smile and a wave in our direction. It was a little thing, but that’s part of what made Jerry such a valuable part of Minnesota United. The little things were everything to him.
It’s sad to see Jerry go, no matter how much the decision was anticipated. Fans won’t remember him as an all-star fullback — though he was a darn good one — but as an all-star person. We’re lucky he decided to make Minnesota his home for two years.
Thanks for all the little things, Jerry. We’re wishing you nothing but the absolute best — plus plenty of opportunities to do the loon celebration — wherever you end up next. You’ll always be a Minnesotan.
Also, check out this touching goodbye from Jerry himself:
this messge doesn‘t even express nearly:— Jérôme Thiesson (@j_thiesson) November 26, 2018
-how much I want to thank you
-how much it meant to me, playing for this badge and community
-how much you gave me
-how much fun I had
-how much fam Thiesson loves MN
-how much I don‘t like twitter to limit tweets so I can‘t express myself pic.twitter.com/weaQtLhWE9