Defender Rhoys Wiggins pens an open letter to the club's supporters following his retirement from the game...
This isn’t something I ever thought I would have to write at the age of 30, but due to the injury I sustained in October 2016 I am unfortunately not able to continue with the job I love to do.
I have been battling for the last two years, doing everything possible to get back out there, but my knee just won’t allow me to do so.
I feel I have done everything possible to give myself the best chance of a return to the pitch and, for that, I can hold my head high.
It’s not been easy since the injury. I’ve had three operations, along with countless injections and drainages of the knee.
A lot of people are also unaware that I had an accident after my first operation and sustained a fractured skull.
This was, and has been, the most challenging time of my life. I have not only had to deal with the injury, operations and the other freak accident, but I have also found out at the end of a lot of hard work from everyone involved that it was not meant to be, and I would have to give up on my dream once and for all.
I’m absolutely gutted on a number of levels.
I feel that with previous injures throughout my career I never got to show my true potential, and never quite reached the level I felt was possible for me to achieve.
This is the worst thing about having to retire early – that I will never get the chance to prove what I believed all along.
Having said that, I have to keep my head high. I still made it and in doing so, proved a lot of people wrong along the way.
I have enjoyed many of years playing football and been involved in some great teams with some great people. I have made history and memories that I will be proud to tell my daughter.
I have to thank AFC Bournemouth and the fans for everything. I have received nothing but the best possible care from everyone from the first day I returned to the day I called it quits.
It is a team not just on the pitch but throughout, and that runs from every member of staff through to each player.
I would like to say a special thanks to the gaffer and Jason Tindall, who have had such a major impact on my career from the age of 20 and throughout my time in football. For that, I can’t thank them enough.
Thank you to every member of the medical department, who I know have done everything possible. A special thanks to the club doctor, Craig Roberts, and Steve Hard, our physio.
Steve has done everything possible for me, not just this injury but through my spells at the club. Not only was he making sure my knee was getting the best possible care but he also looked after the mental side of things.
Being injured can be a lonely place and getting the news you can’t continue is so hard to swallow, but Steve took it upon himself on more than one occasion to make sure the mental side of things was being seen to, and for that I am truly grateful.
To the supporters at every club I’ve had the privilege of wearing the shirt for, thank you. It is the fans that make football what it is.
I would like to finish by thanking the people who have been there for me the longest and will remain with me in my next chapter of my life.
My agent, who has advised me with the best possible advice throughout my career and continues to do so.
My mum and dad, who also miss out on supporting me from the stands and lose what has been a part of their life for many of years, I can’t thank you enough for everything over the years.
The biggest thanks of all goes to my wife, Abbie, and daughter, Evie. Knowing I am returning home to them after hours on the physio bed is one of the things that got me through these last couple of years.
Abbie has had to live this whole ordeal with me, she has been there through the toughest times I’ve faced and it’s not been easy for us both, but she knows how grateful I am and I can’t thank you enough.