Peabo Doue handles things quietly and with poise and direction, even as circumstances on and off the field become chaotic. So when news that Loudoun United FC was cancelling the remaining two games of their 2020 USL Championship season (following the postponement of a third), Doue surprised many by announcing his retirement earlier that day via social media:
While the news caught most off-guard, Doue had been prepared for it for awhile.
“I made that decision in the beginning of the year,” Doue told B&RU. “A lot of people have been actually asking if it a contract thing, if it has anything to do with the club, and I made the decision a long time ago, but kind of kept it under wraps. (I) mostly spoke with people that I was very close to, the organization, everybody on staff knew, the players knew, we kind of just kept it to ourselves that this would be my last year.
“When you’re in this League for eight years it’s a little bit taxing but it just felt like the right time to walk away and start something new. I feel like I’ve (had) a pretty fruitful career, played with a lot of different teams and a lot of different areas of the country, meet a lot of great people so I just felt like it was the right time to look for something new.”
While Doue’s decision was made before the season started, it was made before Covid shuttered professional sports for several months, he remained steadfast in it, despite circumstances throwing wrenches into plans not once but twice. “Honestly, in the beginning, the biggest thing (when the season was suspended) was like, ‘Well damn, the first game of 2020 (Loudoun’s March game with Philadelphia Union II) was going to be the last game of my career?’ I was cool for a minute, then I was kind of like ‘well damn maybe I should reconsider play another year,’ but I talked to my girlfriend about it, because she’s like a lot of the guys on the team, she’ll call me old man, because she’s the one who has to hear me complain about my hamstring and my back and everything, so she’s like ‘I’m not trying to hear anything with that,’ and I think the dedication that players have to put into it was something I wasn’t directly aligned with that anymore, which for me was OK because I was being honest with myself, and that’s when I realized I’m at peace with it.”
The season suspension in March would ultimately not be the first time Doue would face such disappointment. “I was a little bit apprehensive of the way it ended, (because) it was not what I envisioned at all. Ryan (Martin) and staff had expressed that the game against North Carolina FC (scheduled for October 4) would be the testimonial match, where my family will be able to come out and support me, have a nice ceremony, which would have been great. But at the end of the day things happen, and I completely understand. If anything that I learned in this industry is that it’s never how you plan, there’s things that happen all the time. Knowing the whole season was a little bit mentally draining, with how the season went it was a little bit frustrating, but it was almost like emotional relief, and just because I know how people feel about it, and that for me is a great accomplishment.”
How people have felt about it in the aftermath of the announcement was more than Doue expected. “Soccer’s always been a big part of my life. You can ask my family, my close friends, I’ve always been ‘the soccer guy.’ That’s been my identity, just giving so much to the game and the game has actually given me so much as well in return. It was and still is emotional. Another thing that got me after releasing the video, people were still saying, ‘hey man like no chance! You can still play, you still have a lot of career left!’ I also got a lot of different invitations to play for different men’s leagues in the area, so I’ll probably be taking those offers once everything gets back to normal. But a lot of former teammates who I haven’t been that great in touch with, they called me, they texted me, we had good conversations. we talked for hours. Evan Newton (current Indy Eleven goalkeeper and Doue’s teammate in 2015 with Oklahoma City) called me as soon as he found out the news. I haven’t talked to him on a personal level in years, and for me, (knowing) that it meant a lot for him to actually just pick up the phone and call me, then a couple other guys from North Carolina called me. And I think after those I was a little bit more emotional, but just like it was more assurances, and thought, ‘This is the right call. A lot of people were impacted by how I treated them or how I was in the locker room with them,’ and for me that was that was good enough for me.
Doue turns 29 at the end of the year, and is leaving everything open on the table. “It’s funny because I was speaking with my former agent last night, and we (had a) similar conversation about what’s next, in North Carolina, I worked at a medical spa, doing marketing, community engagement type stuff. A lot of people don’t know that, so that’s something that I really enjoyed, the marketing side of things and actually (bringing it) full circle, the owner of the spa reached out to me and said, ‘hey look we’re trying to grow our mail clients and client base, and we would love to have you back, if that’s something that you’re interested in doing.’ And knowing the climate of our time right now, and how difficult it is to find a job and everything going on, I’m keeping it in mind, but obviously I have a couple months to sit back and reflect on what exactly I want to do. I had a really good conversation with (former North Carolina teammate) Austin Da Luz and last year he retired, so I gave him a call and we talked for a good 45 minutes, in terms of his transition. During quarantine I used that time to take advantage of my networks and just call different Executives and Directors and just used that time to pick people’s brains. But just in terms of moving forward, I’m completely open and acknowledging the fact that I may very well be doing something that I have never done before, and I’m OK with that.”
He has talked to several different outlets since retiring, but no matter the outlet, Doue has provided his final thoughts the same general way. “First and foremost, if anyone is looking for a hungry marketing sports marketing person, hit me up, let me send my resume! Just kidding. Thank you to everybody, every single person that’s supported me along the way, whether that’s been people that I went to school with, grew up with, people who have supported me, just voicing support. To the different clubs that I’ve played with, from the supporters group, to kids in the youth club, and the staff and everybody, thank you so much for love and support. I’ve met so many great people along this is amazing journey, and I’ve said I’m a very personal person, but I take those relationships close to my heart. My girlfriend was like, ‘you responded to everybody on Twitter and like everybody’s comments!’ Well yeah, because it meant a lot to me, I just wanted to pay my respects, and let them know that I appreciate them. I know they will never really be able to know exactly how I feel about them, but just I’m so thankful for everybody who supported me, ann the clubs who took a chance on me, and allowed me to live out my dream for this long, ‘cause you know not a lot of people don’t get to play for this long, and it’s a great blessing.”