Jon Walters announces retirement from football

McCarthy and Coleman pay tribute to forward as injury forces him to stop playing

Jon Walters has announced his retirement from football. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Jon Walters has announced his retirement from football. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

Republic of Ireland and Burnley striker Jonathan Walters has announced his retirement from football following a long-standing Achilles injury.

The 35-year-old was on-loan at Ipswich when he suffered a partially-ruptured Achilles tendon after coming on as a substitute in a goalless draw against Bolton in the Sky Bet Championship last September.

It was thought the problem would keep him sidelined for six months but the veteran has revealed the issue has forced him into prematurely ending his career.

He wrote on Twitter: “Isn’t it ironic...my Achilles heel has literally been my Achilles heel and finished me off! I am now retired from playing football It’s been epic Veni vidi vici”.

New Ireland manager Mick McCarthy both paid tribute to Walters on Friday, ahead of Saturday’s Euro 2020 qualifier against Gibraltar.

“He sent me a message last week asking if he could come in for training so I phoned him back,” McCarthy said. “So I’ve known for the best part of a week that he was thinking of retiring. He doesn’t want to; he wanted to keep on playing but it’s an injury that’s causing it. I’m sorry that I didn’t get a chance to work with him because he’s always been an inspirational figure for Ireland and all of the clubs that he has been at.

“It’s sad when you lose those sorts of players. It’s particularly sad when they have to pack it in because of injury but I wish him well.”

Coleman said that Walters was the sort of player who set the standard for others. “As long as he ‘s been in the squad he’s been nothing short of an inspiration: the pride he has shown. For these new lads coming in, he is an example.

“Unfortunately he got injured before the Euros in 2016 which I thought was a pity because I thought he carried us there. Nights like the one when he scored two goals against Bosnia (in the Euro 2016 play-offs) are what he will be remembered for.”

Qualified to play for the Republic through his Irish mother, Merseyside-born Walters scored 14 goals in 54 international appearances and played at Euro 2012 and Euro 2016.

He started his professional career at Blackburn in 2000 after coming through the academy but failed to make a first-team appearance for Rovers before switching to Bolton the following year.

Walters then moved on to Hull, Wrexham and Chester before eventually establishing himself at Ipswich, where he scored 32 goals in 146 games in all competitions.

He was sold in the summer of 2010 for around £2.75million to Stoke, where he spent the next seven seasons.

Walters scored twice in a 5-0 thrashing of Bolton in an FA Cup semi-final at Wembley to help the Potters reach the 2011 final, where they lost 1-0 to Manchester City.

He netted 62 times in 271 matches for Stoke before joining Burnley for “3million in July 2017.

However, he was unable to force his way into Sean Dyche’s plans and was duly loaned out to Ipswich at the start of this season.

Walters was named in the starting XI for his first two matches with Town but a 71st-minute introduction against his former club Bolton would prove to be his final appearance as a professional.

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