Halifax Wanderers forward João Morelli announced his retirement from professional football on Friday after a storied career that included four seasons in Halifax.
“I want to thank everyone in Halifax for their support, especially our amazing fans that supported me no matter what,” Morelli said.“I’m a father now, and my family is my priority. I think it’s best for my son to grow up in Brazil around his family.”
Morelli, 27, retires as the Wanderers’ all-time leading scorer with 24 goals across all competitions.
“Joao will forever be a Wanderer, and we are fortunate to have had him with us during his career,” Wanderers founder and president Derek Martin said. “He brought passion and excitement to the pitch every time he wore our crest, and I look forward to welcoming him and his family back to the Grounds to witness what he helped build.”
From Itu, Brazil, Morelli signed with Halifax ahead of the 2020 CPL Season and helped lead the club to a finals appearance at the Island Games in Prince Edward Island, scoring four goals in nine matches. In 2021, Morelli was named the Canadian Premier League’s Player of the Year and captured the Golden Boot by scoring a league-best 14 goals.
Morelli scored in the Wanderers’ 2022 season opener but played in only two matches due to a knee injury. In June of 2023, Morelli was cleared to play and returned to the team in July, scoring four goals and adding an assist over nine appearances.
“I thought about retirement after I hurt my knee, but I wanted to prove to myself I could still do it,” Morelli said. “It was important for me and my mental health to not let that injury stop me and be frustrated for the rest of my life, so it was really good to come back and see that I could still be the same player before making this decision.”
Over his professional career, Morelli scored 58 goals and tallied 23 assists with the Wanderers as well as clubs in Brazil, England and Estonia. In total, he made 43 appearances in a Halifax jersey.
“Halifax will be a place that I’ll take my son to again and maybe watch a game in the new stadium,” Morelli said. “It’s a special place in my life and where I felt the happiest in my career, so I will remember that time forever.”