VANCOUVER -- Russell Teibert is calling time on his playing career after 16 seasons with Major League Soccer's Vancouver Whitecaps.

But while he may not be in uniform, he will still be a part of the team.

The 31-year-old Teibert announced his retirement on Friday, a move widely expected when the Whitecaps declined to pick up the option year of his contract in the off-season.

At the time, Whitecaps coach Vanni Sartini said the team was in talks with Teibert about moving the stalwart midfielder into a front-office role. The club confirmed that move on Friday.

Teibert, the longest-tenured player in Vancouver's MLS history, leaves the team with five goals and 24 assists in 301 appearances across all competitions, the fourth-most in club history.

He was also a presence with Canada's national team, scoring two goals and adding two assists in 27 appearances.

“I lived my boyhood dream,” Teibert said in a statement. “I captained the Whitecaps and I played for Canada.”

Teibert, from Niagara Falls, Ont., joined the Whitecaps' residency program as a teenager in 2008.

He joined the Whitecaps' senior team in 2011 out of the club's academy side and helped it win Canadian championship titles in 2015, 2022 and 2023.

He was named the most valuable player of the 2015 championship as Vancouver beat two-time defending champion Montreal 4-2 in the title game.

His 253 MLS appearances across 13 seasons are an all-time club record.

“It is uncommon in today's times that a player plays his whole career for one club,” Axel Schuster, Whitecaps chief executive and sporting director, said in a release. “From the first day that he stepped into this club at the age of 15, he has represented the club in an outstanding way.

“Few understand more what this club has been through and what matters for the people in the city. He has built relationships in our community and across the province.”

Though he dropped out of first team selection in 2023 and made just seven appearances last season, he was on hand to see the Whitecaps return to the playoffs after missing out the previous year.

“Years ago I made a promise to myself and our club; I would only be satisfied taking our work boots off when our jersey was in a better place,” Teibert said. “We've been through the mud together and have had to clean our boots time and time again.

“Our climb has only made us stronger. Today I hang my boots proudly, knowing we made good on that promise.”

At the youth level, Teibert represented Canada at the 2009 CONCACAF U17 Championship and the 2011 CONCACAF U20 Championship. He was named Canadian U17 Player of the Year in 2008 and 2009.

With the senior national team, he represented Canada at the 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup tournaments

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 1, 2024.