The best way to honor Sebastien Le Toux's contribution to the Philadelphia Union organization is with goals, and the team came through with four against Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday. But with the score 1-0 at halftime Le Toux was honored in a more permanent way, with a giant banner featuring his name unveiled above section 117 in Talen Energy Stadium as the club's all-time leading scorer and creator became the first inductee into the Union Ring of Honor.
"When you're a player, you cannot dream about that," Le Toux said after the ceremony. "But to happen to me, it's kind of like, weird but awesome at the same time. It was great."
Friends, family, and former teammates stood on the Talen Energy Stadium pitch with the Union legend at halftime as he watched a video tribute to his career and a series of messages from former players that had been influenced by the Frenchman’s hard working approach to the game. In a short speech, a clearly emotional Le Toux thanked the fans for their support and reflected on his time in Philly.
From the very first moments that Philadelphia Union soccer existed, Sebastien Le Toux was its on-field face. The Frenchman scored a hat trick in the club's first home match, he notched the first ever goal in the club's stadium, he has the first playoff goal in club history, and the most goals and assists of any individual ever to don the Union crest.
Le Toux's career as a player may be complete, but his contributions to the Union club and its fans will forever remain a fundamental part of Union lore. To honor the striker and club legend, the Union made his name a permanent addition to their stadium.
Now, and for the rest of the club's existence, Sebastien Le Toux's name will be visible to Union fans when they arrive for a match, a reminder of soccer's power to create unbreakable bonds between player, club and fans.
Asked what it meant to see all the fans wearing his jersey and cheering his name Saturday night, Le Toux paused to take in the gravity of the moment. "It means people love the way I play and the way I treat myself on the field and off the field," he began. "So it's one of the most important things for me as a player. I was happy to have success but I was happy to be a good person too, and people recognize that."
When the ceremony ended and reporters clicked off their recorders, jerseys and memorabilia were thrown from the stands for Le Toux to sign. He obliged, scribbling his name endlessly and patiently posing for photographs, putting the fans first as he always did.