Former AFC Bournemouth defender, Tommy Elphick, has officially announced his retirement from the game after 16 years playing professionally.
During four years with the club, he won promotion from League One under Eddie Howe’s guidance and was given the armband as the Cherries reached the Premier League for the first time in history.
Following Elphick’s announcement on BBC Radio Solent this week, he spoke with afcb.co.uk about the decision and wanting to stay in the game.
“It wasn’t too tough to make the decision if I’m being honest,” he began.
“I’d been out injured for a long time, I’d had nine operations, so my body was very tired. I’d put it through the mill a little bit, so I had a long time to think about it and it’s not a knee-jerk reaction.
“It’s a decision that I’ve taken with certain things in consideration, so I suppose it boiled down to the fact that I’d rather be a young inspiring coach, rather than an old declining player.
“I’m really content and happy with the decision, and I’m really looking forward to the next chapter.”
Elphick was at Birmingham on Wednesday evening, as goals from Dominic Solanke and Jaidon Anthony helped the Cherries to a valuable three points.
The former captain spoke about his love for the club and how watching the side never gets old, particularly at St. Andrew’s which held fond memories of the 2014/15 campaign.
“Watching the boys brings back so many memories.
“I haven’t actually been back too much since I left because we’ve always been in different divisions and playing in different parts of the country.
“I think I’ve only even been to maybe two away games but I was at the first game of the season against West Brom.
“I was then obviously at the Birmingham game where we had good memories of the season we got promoted, so it’s nice to reminisce and see the good work being done as well.
“I always enjoy watching a Bournemouth team!”
The former centre-back went on to discuss his favourite moments while turning out in red and black, with that famous promotion the highlight of a decorated career.
“To have been at the front and to have lead a club like ours to the Premier League is something that’s always going to be very, very hard to beat and that’s the biggest and proudest moment of my career.
“Obviously, it was also off the back of some serious injuries at Brighton, so to do what I did after the setbacks I had at the start of my career is something I take a lot of pride in.
“It was the most remarkable journey and it was an amazing four years which actually seemed a lot longer given what we did in those four years.
“It’s the blueprint for me going forwards and the inspiration for me staying in the game.”
It wasn’t just on the pitch where Elphick made his mark, but there was also a very strong bond inside the dressing room.
Having been to two league fixtures already this season, the 33-year-old has bumped into plenty of old friends and enjoyed catching up with some familiar faces.
“I’ve got some great friends that I’ve made through being at Bournemouth,” he continued.
“As is the case with the rest of the lads who were there, I always saw my life in football as a 34-year career not just a 15-20 year thing.
“It’s great to see Franno [Simon Francis] back at the football club doing some good work.
“I also bumped into Surs [Andrew Surman] at the West Brom game and it’s nice that what we did and achieved is still held in high regard by the club.
“Hopefully we’ll see a few more of those faces around the club at some point in the future.”
With four games of the new campaign gone and having officially retired from playing, Elphick concluded by summing up how he felt not to be pulling on those boots at the start of a season.
“It’s nice to come and watch football with no pressure.
“I actually do miss the playing aspect. I don’t miss sitting on a physio bed and trying to get ready for training.
“But I do miss the dressing room, I miss being on the grass every day, the structure, I miss having an influence and an impact on the group.
“That’s part of the reason why I want to stay in the game and try to go into coaching and see where that takes me.
“I’ve done bits of it in the past and hopefully there’s more to come.”