Wolves Carl Ikeme's thoughts in full after retiring: 'My health is the priority'
Carl Ikeme has today announced his retirement from professional football.
In an interview with Wolves, the 32-year-old said the decision, taken on medical advice, hadn't sunk in yet.
Here are his thoughts in full on having to retire from the game – and putting his health first.
"It’s been a tough year, I can’t explain how long it’s been. I got back home about six weeks ago after the doctor told me I was in remission. I’m happy to be home, be back at the club to see a few old faces, and just catch up with everyone again. I haven’t really been to Wolverhampton for a year or so and it’s nice to be here.
"It was a relief to know the intense part was over. I was in remission in the first month but you don’t know how the treatment is going to go. It was a relief to get the all clear to go home and spend time with your family. I’ll still be in hospital a little bit but it won’t be like it has been before.
WATCH Carl in his own words:
Footage: Wolves TV/YouTube
"I spoke with the doctor and he suggested I should retire, because of the toll the treatment has taken on my body. He thinks it’s what is best for me and I can’t really risk trying to come back, my health is the priority. I want to be here for my children, family and friends.
"It’s difficult in a way to look back at what you’ve gone through in your football career. In the grand scheme of things with your life in danger, it’s the minimum price I have to pay to spend the rest of my time with my family.
"I’ve had a long year and I knew it would be difficult, but hearing it from the doctor confirmed what I thought might happen anyway. It’s sad when I look back, from being six or seven years old and the sacrifices it’s taken to become a professional football and the sacrifices my family and friends made to get me to training, that’s what you get a bit emotional about.
"I’m happy with what I achieved, if you’d have said I could have had this career at 11 I would have snapped their hands off. I’m just happy to be around my family, be back in Wolverhampton, hopefully come to a few games, be around the club again and get back to some normality.
"It’s not really set in since speaking to the doctor. In time I can have a good look back, it’s been incredible for me personally to have been at Wolves from 14 to 31 – just one club is something I’m proud of.
"I know I’ve had a lot of loans, but it’s nice to have been a one club man because it’s rare these days. I’m proud that I can always come back to Wolverhampton and always have friends here, and be loved, it’s incredible.
"We used to be in portacabins where we’d get changed at the stadium and Keith Downing would drive a mini bus to the training ground. That’s where it began at the academy, there were so many funny moments when you’re young and a bit stupid, some great moments in the changing room. I’ve still got friends in the academy and people working at Wolves who helped me back then.
"This is my club. It’s been strange because this year I’ve enjoyed being a fan, watching the games. I’d be getting a bit heated on my own in my hospital room and nobody was about. When I’m doing commentary it’s no different, I try to be professional but it spills out.
"This is my club and it always will be, now I’m not playing, I’m a fan. I’m looking forward to being a fan and coming to enjoy the games with the fans who’ve supported me in my whole career and hardest moments. I’m looking forward to enjoying the games.
"It was a bit strange to start with, obviously getting diagnosed and receiving some unbelievable messages. People were going out of their way to raise money for cancer charities, it’s moving because you never realise people like you.
"When you’re playing you’re just in the mode of playing game after game, but when you’re in these circumstances you realise how people feel about you. The support has been incredible, everyday someone asks who I am for a whole year. It’s incredible to think people actually care that they’ll do fund raisers in my name.
"I’ll take a holiday soon. I’ve spoken to the club and they’re happy to facilitate whatever I want to do in a staff position. I can’t thank Jeff, Kev and Laurie for good they’ve been with me since the treatment. They’ve offered me to come back in and help out. I can do some media work or just be a fan.
"There’s nothing concrete I want to do, in the near future I’ll come to games and catch up with people. I’m going to enjoy being around the club, experiencing the good and bad times, but I’ll definitely be in and around the club."