Former West Ham United midfielder Jack Collison has announced his retirement from professional football...
It’s hard knowing how to start this…
But as of tomorrow when I wake up, I am no longer Jack Collison – the footballer. As of tomorrow, I am officially retired.
I suppose this day has been coming for a while, but the harsh reality of actually admitting it and saying it is very different to just thinking about it. In all honesty it has been on the cards for a while, but I have never been one to give up without a fight, and this fight against injury has truly been a mammoth battle.
I never in a million years dreamt that, at 27 years of age, I would be having to announce my retirement, but then again I never thought I would have played in the Premier League and for my country by the age of 19.
I think every kid grows up dreaming of one day playing in packed stadiums against some of the best players in the world. I suppose the only difference is that I became obsessed with this dream at a young age and eventually accomplished it.
I feel very blessed to have achieved what I did in my short time playing the game. However deep down I feel there will always be a sickening feeling of ‘what if’. Potential not quite reached? Maybe.
The fact that I have never been fully fit since my knee injury at the age of 20 may haunt me in later life, but it is something I have grown comfortable enough to live with for the time being.
It certainly wasn’t through a lack of effort and trying. I dedicated my life to the game and even more so to my knee. Hours in the gym, sleepless nights, countless operations and thousands of pounds visiting the best physios around the world, all so I could make it out on to the pitch.
I’m happy that I can look myself in the mirror and say I threw my heart and soul into trying to accomplish my dreams.
However the time has finally come to say, enough is enough, and admit my body can no longer cope with the demands of modern day football.
The nights when I wake up in pain, or the mornings when I struggle to walk will be a constant reminder that I was lucky enough to play the game I love. That I put my body on the line time and time again to live out my dreams in front of the world.
I’m not after sympathy or a pat on the back, I just want to share my story and let people know how grateful I am that I had a little taste of it. I know I am one of the lucky ones.
When I look back now, I have many great memories. I can smile and enjoy sharing my experiences. I would be lying if I said I didn’t still wake up some mornings feeling good and think ‘one more try.’ But that would be unfair. On myself, my fellow professionals and even more so my family. I have put them through hell fighting this battle, over the past couple of seasons especially.
I don’t want to be remembered for being useless and just picking up my money, I want to bow out with some of my pride intact. I have had plenty of time to mull this over and have not acted hastily in this decision and I must say that Peterborough United have acted with class throughout. They have allowed me to make the easy transition from playing to coaching without any issues and I now intend to repay their faith by helping the next generation make the step from young up and coming player to first team superstar.
My passion for playing is slowly dying out, but my passion for football is burning ever so strong and I intend to stay within the game and make my mark in other areas.
I am currently completing my coaching badges, whilst managing The Posh U18s and I love watching my own Soccer School flourish. I have other interests as well, including a university degree in sports writing and a Miami venture which I am also very excited about. Although football has made me the man I am today it doesn’t define me and I am very optimistic about the future.
I suppose the only way to end this is by showing my appreciation to those who have helped me at various stages in my career and helped me realise my dream.
Firstly, thank you to all of the great clubs I have played for. Thank you to my family, my agent and my friends for sticking by me. We have experienced the ultimate highs, and deepest of lows and It’s been amazing to have you by my side throughout. A huge thank you to the fans as well, the support I have received has been amazing and I hope I have repaid some of you with some memorable moments on the pitch.
A special thank you must go to my fiancée and my little girl, I know at times it must have been tough living with such an obsessed maniac, but your love and support through it all has kept me going, even on the darkest of days and I intend to make it up to you now.
Lastly I would like to take the time to thank the beautiful game, for football has given me so much. Through the blood, sweat and tears I am forever grateful.
As a kid you gave me a dream, a vision so intense I dedicated my life to you. As an adult you gave me a livelihood, an opportunity and a platform to share my love of the game with the world, And even as a retired player you have still not stopped giving, as I set upon my journey to give back to the game that has given me so much.
So I’m signing off for now. With a tear in my eye, but a huge smile on my face, I sit here optimistic. I’m excited for the next chapter and if it’s anything like the last I know it’s going to be one hell of a journey
Thanks for being a part of it
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of West Ham United