Former Irish international forward Kevin Doyle has announced his retirement from professional football, citing increased concerns about concussion and its symptoms and with that bringing the curtain down on his 16-year playing career with clubs in Ireland, England and most recently in the United States with the Colorado Rapids Soccer Club.
“Today I’m sad to announce that after listening to medical advice I will no further part in this season and will be retiring,” Doyle said in a statement.
“This year it has been clear to me that heading the ball was becoming problematic, and causing me to have repeated headaches. Two concussions this season and numerous others over the years have made this more concerning.
“After consulting with experts in the field it has been decided that to avoid the possibility of these symptoms become more serious and permanent, I will be hanging up my boots for good.”
On the international stage, Doyle was named Football Association of Ireland’s Young Player of the Year in 2006, as well as Player of the Year in 2009. He amassed 63 caps in for the Republic of Ireland, after making his senior debut in 2006, scoring 14 goals across various internationals, also featuring in Euro 2012.
Doyle, now aged 34, joined the Colorado Rapids, based in the Denver suburb of Commerce City, midway through the 2015 campaign as the club’s third Designated Player in franchise history. In his two-and-a-half seasons with the club, he appeared in 71 regular season matches, scoring 16 goals in total, and eight assists.
The Wexford native originally played for St Patricks Athletic and then Cork City, where his career first shot to prominence, scoring 25 goals in 76 appearances. He then moved to English side Reading, was part of Reading’s record-breaking promotion to the Premier League in 2006. In June 2009, he moved to Wolverhampton Wanderers for a then-club record £6.5 million. He finished his 10 years with English clubs with a combined 92 goals in 357 appearances for Reading, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Queens Park Rangers and Crystal Palace.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time with the Colorado Rapids and playing in MLS has been a fantastic experience,” said Doyle. “I would have loved to have taken the opportunity offered to stay for another year. The staff, players and fans here have made me, and more importantly, my family feel at home in Denver and we will miss it.”
This season, Doyle had appeared in 25 of the first 26 regular season contests for the Colorado Rapids, where he sustained another incidence of concussion in the first half of the September 2nd match against LA Galaxy. Prior to the injury, Doyle ranked second on the team with five goals and four assists.
“Kevin is both a terrific player and a terrific person,” said Rapids Sporting Director and Interim General Manager Pádraig Smith. “His contributions on the field have been invaluable, and off-the-field he has been a wonderful influence on the locker room as well as the community as a whole. His efforts will be sorely missed.”
The Irish forward was an instrumental part of a Rapids team that fell one game short of reaching the 2016 MLS Cup, a season in which Doyle found the back of the net six times in regular season play, before adding another goal in the first-leg of the Western Conference Championship against Seattle Sounders FC.