Bern's goalie looks forward to life off the ice

Tosio, right, couldn't fend off a penalty shot from Lugano's Jean Jacques Aeschlimann on Tuesday Keystone

Following his retirement as Bern's goalkeeper this week, Renato Tosio is returning to Chur, where he started his ice hockey career 15 years ago. Tosio is to take up a new post as sporting director for the Chur team.

This content was published on March 21, 2001 minutes

Tosio bowed out as Bern's goalkeeper on Tuesday after the team lost to Lugano in the semi-finals of the Swiss ice hockey playoffs. That game marked his 655th consecutive match for Bern - a world record.

Tosio has become a living legend not only in the Swiss capital but across the country, pursuing his career with a degree of loyalty and commitment rarely seen in modern sport.

The St Gallen-born goalie has played for just two clubs in a career spanning 15 years. After making a name for himself in only one season at Chur, Tosio joined Bern in 1986 and has been a permanent fixture between the posts since then.

"I do have mixed feelings after ending my career with a defeat," Tosio told swissinfo. "But I have a nice career behind me and it's been great to have all these people saying goodbye and wishing me luck. This is what I wanted - to be going out while people still have fond memories of me."

Tosio himself will take plenty of fond memories away with him. The charismatic goalie won four league titles with the side during a career, which also included 183 international caps.

As for that incredible uninterrupted run in goal, Tosio insists that serious toil and good fortune both played a role.

"I work very hard on my body during the summertime," Tosio explained. "And I also take very good care of what I eat. But of course it was also important that all the different coaches I've worked for wanted me as their number one goalie. I was also lucky not to get any serious injuries or illnesses."

With a glorious playing past behind him, Tosio is now looking ahead to a challenging future off the ice. In keeping with his reputation for loyalty, he announced before Tuesday's match that he would be returning to his first club, Chur, to take up a position as sporting director.

"I will be taking responsibility for what happens on the ice," he told swissinfo. "After 14 years here in Bern I have some good ideas to give back to Chur.

"It may seem like small beer in Chur compared to what there is here at Bern, but I believe I can do a lot there. The people of Chur and the board want to give me a chance, so I'm taking that chance and I hope I can make a career as successful as the one I made here."

But will Tosio be tempted to put his gloves back on in Chur if things aren't going according to plan? "Maybe," he admits with a grin, but only under certain circumstances.

"Perhaps in a fun game - something in the senior league - but only as a forward. I've already asked the seniors if I can come into the team, but only if I can play upfront. They said yes."

The incredible playing career may have come to an end, but the warm relationship between Tosio and his adoring Swiss public looks set to run and run.

by Mark Ledsom

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