Former Stoke City defender Andy Wilkinson has confirmed his retirement from football due to a long-term head injury.
Wilkinson, 31, last played for Stoke in an FA Cup game against Blackburn Rovers on February 14 last year but was struck by the ball, which caused brain damage leading to vertigo, nausea and balance problems.
The full-back later suffered mental issues relating to anger and depression and, after his contract expired at the end of last season, was offered a six-month deal by Stoke that expired in January.
Wilkinson spent his entire career at Stoke, aside from five brief loan spells away at the likes of Shrewsbury Town and Millwall.
Confirming his retirement on Friday, he posted on social media: “Unfortunately and reluctantly, I have to announce my retirement from professional football as a result of the serious head injury I suffered last year.
“It is a difficult day. I did not expect my career to end so soon and had looked forward to many more years playing the game I love.
“I would like to sincerely thank everyone at Stoke City at all levels and including the fans and everyone who has supported me throughout my career and as a youngster.
“I also wish to thank Stoke City for their continued support for which I am extremely grateful. I have truly lived my dream and have been on an incredible journey.
“I’ve played for my team Stoke for 15 years, in the Premier League, Europa [League] and in an FA Cup final. That’s enough to make anyone dizzy and blurry eyed.”
Speaking to Sky Sports News, former Stoke manager and current West Brom boss Tony Pulis added: “Wilkinson reflects exactly what that place was about – an honest, hardworking person who gave everything, and I mean everything.
“In training, in games, whatever you asked him to do. Any functions around the town, he never ever moaned or groaned and he always did everything to the best of his ability.”