Sunday will be the final professional match for both Raul and Marcos Senna, two legends of the game who have decided to end their careers in the United States playing for the New York Cosmos. The club's COO, Erik Stover, spent some time in the buildup to the match speaking with Bob Williams* about the impact the pair have had, both on and off the pitch:
"Both of them - their professionalism on and off the field - have contributed to everything we're about. We try to do things at the highest standard and they have played international football and for big clubs so they bring in a different level of professionalism and that has helped is in everything we do, from support staff to medical staff."
"For our other players they are learning from the greatest how to not only play the game tactically and technically but how to take care of your body and how to be a good professional. They've helped us in any way you can imagine."
*The full Telegraph interview is excellent, and you should take the time to give it a read.
The impact of both Senna and Raul is obvious, and will leave a massive void for the club to fill once they retire following Sunday's match. Stover is confident that the club will be able to replace those intangibles, however, and notes that the organization has learned what to look for by having the pair around:
"We're confident we'll be able to find a formula to keep the team at a high level [without them]. We've already been in negotiations with other players. They're irreplaceable both of them but the advantage of having them here - three years for Marcos and one for Raul - we've learned to look for those intangibles, those leadership qualities, those are the first things we are looking for."
"It's always the right players for the team first. It will be one signing at a time and hopefully they will be able to recapture the magic that Marcos and Raul brought to us."
One potential replacement that's been oft-rumored this season is Greek international Georgios Samaras. Stover confirmed again that the player is still training with the club, and is a real option going forward:
"Georgios is a wonderful guy.We said come train with us and you'll never know what will happen after that. So we've had extensive conversations with him and we'll know a bit more over the next couple of months."
At this point, I'd be shocked if Samaras isn't the first new signing the club makes this winter, as he fills an obvious need, and clearly has a good relationship with the club. We'll have to wait and see for now, I suppose, but it's good to hear that he still fits into the club's thinking, regardless of whether or not there's an agreement in place.