Tributes flood in as Kevin Doyle is forced to retire

Tributes flood in as Kevin Doyle is forced to retire

Tributes have been pouring in overnight for Kevin Doyle, who has been forced to retire at the age of 34.

The Wexford native starred in the Premier League for both Reading and Wolves, and scored 14-international goals.

The effects of concussion have led Doyle to call time early on his career, and it ends at MLS side Colorado Rapids.

In a statement released on Twitter, he said: "This year it has been clear to me that heading the ball was becoming problematic and causing me to have repeated headaches.

"Two concussions this season and numerous others over the years have made this more concerning. After consulting the experts in this field, it has been decided that to avoid the possibility of these symptoms becoming more serious and permanent, I will be hanging my boots up for good."

The sombre news will add fresh impetus in this country and in the game in general to the growing debate about heading the ball, concussion and the possibility of links to long-term damage to the brain. The issue has long been in the spotlight in sport in the United States where Doyle ended his career playing for Colorado Rapids in the MLS.

Having expressed sadness at his enforced retirement, Doyle went on to pay tribute to the many people who helped him during a stellar career which saw him play in the League of Ireland with Cork City and St Patrick’s Athletic and in England with Reading, Wolves, QPR and Crystal Palace. He also won 63 caps and scored 14 goals for Ireland.

Martin O’Neill, under whom Doyle made his last Irish appearance against Iceland in March, said: “I am disappointed to hear that Kevin has had to retire from football. Kevin was extremely popular with all of the players in the Irish camp and he was an excellent professional, who has served his clubs and country very well during his career.”

FAI boss John Delaney said: “Kevin is one of the great Irish goalscorers of all time, who gave everything for his country.”

Delaney added that the FAI would pay tribute to Doyle at the Aviva Stadium “for his immense contribution to Irish football, at a time that is appropriate for him.”

A hugely popular figure in the game, Doyle’s poignant statement drew warm appreciation from many fans, players and former clubs, including Wolves who noted that he had spent the best part of six years at the club and extended an invitation to “pop in and see us some time, Doyler”.

Cork City, the club with whom Doyle shot to prominence, tweeted: “We wish our former player Kevin Doyle the very best of luck on his retirement and every best wish for the future.”

Wexford FC told him: “the jersey will always be waiting for you”.

Irish football legend Paul McGrath also tweeted his best wishes, adding, “I will see you in Wexford soon for a game of golf.”

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