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Dana Greene - Robbie Russell not your typical athlete

Former RSL star Robbie Russell is retiring from soccer to pursue a career in medicine.
Robbie Russell will forever be linked with Real Salt Lake's history. He played only four seasons with the Claret and Cobalt, but his winning penalty kick in the 2009 MLS Cup championship game against the L.A. Galaxy will go down as one of the most memorable moments in Utah sports history.

Russell is not your typical professional athlete, though. On May 15th, he announced he is retiring from soccer, despite having at least a few good years left, to become a doctor.

His soccer career is complete. He played 13 years, won an MLS Cup, and played in countries like Iceland, Norway and Denmark. But unlike so many athletes who hang on to the sport they love longer than they should, Russell has the intelligence, drive, and ambition to begin a brand new career.

After making plenty of money in the world of soccer, Russell has the means to go back to school. He's enrolling in Georgetown University's pre-med program with the goal of someday working in orthopedics or emergency medicine. It's going to take a year and half before he can even begin medical school, then several years after that to become a doctor.

Knowing Russell, this career switch shouldn't be much of a problem. He is one of the nicest, most intelligent, funny, articulate and well-rounded athletes I've ever covered.

What makes Russell's transition from soccer to medicine even more amazing is that he was a sociology major at Duke. It's not like he had this tremendous background in the field of medicine. His father-in-law is a doctor, but that's the entirety of his medical lineage. However, Russell is smart enough and ambitious enough to tackle this enormous challenge.

It's just so nice to see an athlete with goals and dreams that go beyond sports. Russell gave the bulk of his life to soccer, and he gave Real Salt Lake fans a thrill they will never forget. Now, he'll do something much more important -- save lives. And that's what Robbie Russell should really be remembered for.


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