In the summer of 2007, Chris Wingert came to Real Salt Lake in a trade with the Colorado Rapids, he didn’t know what to expect from his new club or the fans who had treated him as a rival prior to his arrival. It wasn’t long before a love affair with the city and its community blossomed and after 10 seasons with RSL (with a one-year hiatus to play for his hometown New York City FC in 2015), Wingert will be honored at Saturday’s match between RSL and the New York Red Bulls, celebrating his 13-year MLS career.
On Monday, Wingert joined ESPN 700’s On Frame and showed gratitude for the organization.
“I’ve got to give a huge thanks to Mike Petke, Craig Waibel and our owner Dell Loy Hansen. For them to even suggest doing this – I’m so thankful. It’s such an honor,” he said in an extended conversation about his career. “I can’t tell you how good Dell Loy has been to me and my family. When I left to come to New York in 2014, he basically threw a party for me and Nat to say goodbye to the fans. That’s unheard of. I can’t imagine many owners doing that. I’m really appreciative of them to think of me like that and for them to fly out my family this weekend is going to be really special. As much as it’s going to be an incredible day for me, it’s going to be for my parents as well and my nephew is coming too. It’s really nice of them to think of me.”
On Saturday, fans will have an opportunity to get autographs and photos with Wingert at Carnival Real prior to the match. At halftime, he will be honored during a halftime ceremony on the field. For Wingert, it’s an opportunity to return to the community he called home for 10 years and give thanks to the fans who offered unwavering support throughout his time in Utah.
“What is a testament to how amazing the fans are in Salt Lake is how everybody has wanted to stay there. We’ve already had five players play 10 seasons there,” Wingert said, referring to himself, Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran and Javier Morales. “To have one player play 10 years at a club is rare throughout MLS. To have five players stay there speaks volumes about how great the fanbase is, how awesome it is to play for Real Salt Lake and live in Utah and how much the club means to me and those other guys. And there are a bunch more that played seven or eight years as well. They’ve been unbelievable. I’ll do my best to tell everybody how much it means to me.”
Kickoff for Saturday’s match is scheduled for 7 p.m. MT with festivities at Carnival Real starting at 5 p.m. MT. Tickets are available at KSL.com/RSL or by calling 844-REAL-TIX (844-732-5849).
To hear the full interview, listen below.