CHESTER, Pa. — Sebastien Le Toux is the Philadelphia Union.
The club legend will be honored at halftime of the Union’s game against the Vancouver Whitecaps with a large group of family members and former teammates alongside him.
Cheering Le Toux from the stands will be fans that formed a bond with the winger during his two stints in Philadelphia.
“You could not ask for a better ambassador for the team,” Union fan Amy Dean said of Le Toux.
“If you’re going to go for a Ring of Honor, there’s nobody else who should be the first inductee,” Union fan Drew Vassallo said. “He holds every record. He’s the guy who really embraced the fans the most. It’s nice he got to come back here.”
Le Toux immediately earned a spot in the hearts of Union fans when he scored a hat-trick in the club’s first home game against D.C. United at Lincoln Financial Field.
“The hat-trick he got in the first-ever home game at the Linc was just amazing to see,” Union fan Matt Crowley said.
Even in the middle of hard-fought games in the gold and blue, Le Toux remembered pre-game interactions he had with Union fans.
“Me and my brother we don’t normally agree on sports, but the one thing we always agreed on was Sebastien Le Toux,” Union fan Eric Stencovage said. “One of the pregames we were down near The River End for warmups and he was taking shots and my brother yells at him “Are you going to score a goal today?” and Le Toux gave him the thumbs up. He scores and then later on after he scored he pointed at my brother.”
But Le Toux’s connection with the fans goes much farther than in-game memories. Almost every longtime fan has a special off-the-field moment or involvement with the Frenchman.
“I’m not sure what year it was maybe 2011 or 2012 but Sebastien had a contest with the fans. He wanted someone to draw a picture of him and he was going to give away his jersey from the game,” Union season ticket holder Samina Shockley said. “I think he put it out on social media.
“My daughter drew not only his face but his whole body, cleats and all, and as Sebastian was going around the stadium after the game looking at all the drawings he saw my daughter and her best friend trying to show him their drawing! Sebastian looked at Maddie’s, then at another, and my daughter yelled but, “Sebastian I drew your whole body!
“He came over to her and her friend Megan took her drawing of him in exchange for his jersey! My daughter was ecstatic! I still have the picture of him giving them his jersey! He was always the hardest working player on the field! We admired his tenacity and his work rate.”
Le Toux always had a soft spot for the fans in his heart, and he made sure to interact with everyone he saw in Union geasr.
“Off the field he never stopped thanking all of the fans for giving him a chance to do what he loved as a job,” Union fan Jeff Mitchell said. “Meeting Le Toux wasn’t just a casual interaction. Sebastien had a way to make each and every interaction of which there were sometimes hundreds after a match a strong connection. If you met Sebastien he remembered you.. and your name.”
It wasn’t just at Union-sponsored events where Le Toux’s kindness stood out to everyone, as he was always an active member of the community.
“I got to meet Seba at a non-Union event up at the Sly Fox Goat Race (an event put on by a local brewery) and I ran into him just chilling out with everybody,” Vassallo said. “What was so cool is every single person in a Union jersey or with any type of Union paraphernalia on he would go up and shake their hand, give them a hug, thank them for a being a fan and coming out to the games. Here’s a Union player at a non-Union event supposed to have a good time on his own still taking all that time to make sure every single fan had a good time.”
Even after he retired, Le Toux is a member of the Union community, and he’s going to be an important figure that stands the test of time.
“He came back to do Help Kick Hunger (a charity event) with us, which was awesome because it speaks to the character of the guy,” Sons of Ben president Matt Gendaszek said. “He was traded twice. The fans always loved him, but you didn’t know what the organization felt. Right now he’s best player we’ve ever had. We feel like he’s one of us. I’d buy him a membership if he wanted one.”
“He is number one,” Stencovage said. ” You could probably go another 30 years and there probably won’t be another one like him.”