Striker Lee Retires
Thursday, 31st Jul 2014 17:54
Striker Alan Lee is hanging up his boots at the age of 35 having undergone knee surgery over the summer. The former Irish international rejoined the Blues a year ago, primarily as an academy coach but was subsequently added to the first-team squad as back-up to Mick McCarthy's main strikers.
Lee, who was on crutches at today’s Open Day, told TWTD that he became aware of the problem while training for the charity cycle ride to Amsterdam: “I think old age and a bit of a rough career caught up with me during the summer.
“I was in training for the bike ride and after a long training run my knee swelled up, which it hadn’t done in years.
“It improved a bit for the cycle ride itself and I was expecting to find out that I’d probably nicked a bit of cartilage or something, but we had a scan and it didn’t look good in there.
“I’d a lot of damage and wear and tear on the inside of my knee, so I had an operation which breaks the bone underneath the knee and resets the angle of my leg to put the pressure down the outside of the knee.
“The surgeon’s very happy with it and is anticipating that I’ll maybe enjoy a pain-free coaching career and, hopefully, I’ll be able to play golf and tennis and other sport, but obviously running or any kind of serious football is out from now on.”
He admits he wasn’t anticipating the news: “I was a little bit surprised, but it’s been taken care of exceptionally well by the club and the physios, so I’m very grateful to that.
“The first thing the manager said to me was ‘Al, you want to be able to play with your kids in five years’ time, go get the operation done and we’ll look after you’.
“So, I’m very grateful to him for that. I’d like to thank the club, the physios and the management for being patient with me.”
The Galway-born frontman, who featured just the once for the first team last season as a sub at Preston in the FA Cup, but was a regular for the U21s, says that being forced to retire isn’t as devastating for him as it is for some other players as he actually expected to end his playing days when he was released by Huddersfield last summer.
“For me personally, to all intents and purposes I retired last year, it wasn’t like I got this news and went home and even thought about it, that’s that,” he added.
“It’s not been emotionally difficult, the emotionally difficult bit is the pain of the bloody operation and the frustration of being on crutches, but I’m doing well.”
He says he’ll now be able to concentrate fully on his new career working in the academy: “I’m still coaching and I’m really looking forward to it.
"Last year a lot of my time was spent training with the first team and I really, really enjoyed that, I really enjoyed the whole of last year, but now it’s about concentrating on learning my trade.
“I’ve got my B Licence and I’m close to getting my A Licence but I’ve realised that to be a development coach I’ve still a lot to learn, but I know that with the people around me – the manager, Terry Connor, Bryan Klug, Gerard Nash, Mark Kennedy – I’m in good company. That’s my focus now - to be as good a coach as I can be.”
Lee initially joined the Blues for a fee £100,000 in January 2006 and he went on to make 96 starts and 13 sub appearances, scoring 34 goals, prior to moving on to Crystal Palace in August 2008.
Photo: Action Images
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