Manchester United u-23 goalkeeper Paul Woolston has been forced to call it quits on his career at the young age of 23.
Woolston, who signed for United in 2018 from Newcastle United, suffered an injury whose cause and extent was truly unknown, even after surgery was performed on him twice, forcing him to hang up his gloves.
Woolston told United’s official website: “To have to retire at just 23 has been really tough to come to terms with but I feel a lot more positive now.
“I am really proud of everything that I have achieved, many people dream of playing football at this level.
“Of course, I would have loved to have gone on further but it has been an absolute honour to represent Manchester United during my time here.
“The support of my family, friends, team-mates, coaches, the medical staff and entire Manchester United Academy has been phenomenal.
“Everyone has played a major part in my journey by keeping my spirits up, allowing me to reflect positively on my playing experiences and begin to look to the future.
“Right now, I am fully focused on the next stage of my career. I am ready to use all of my learnings, resilience, drive and determination to make a real success of my life.”
Many players including a number of senior team players who he trained with on occasion, led by senior goalkeeper David De Gea, have sent him words of encouragement.
De Gea said to United’s website on Woolston’s retirement: “Well, it’s always bad when someone has to retire at a young age.
“I’ve spoken with him, the other day, and said to him that the most important thing is life, more than football, in terms of a proper life.
“It was sad. I have been training with him, when he was fit, and it’s very sad news.
“I wish him all the best. He’s a great lad, a great goalkeeper and we all feel really sorry for him.
“I trained with him and he had a very good left foot, I remember, and it’s sad for him and for the club.
“But, as I said before, I was speaking with him and, first of all, it’s life and being in good conditions to have a good life.
“Of course, in life, sometimes problems happen and things happen. You have to keep looking forward, keep fighting and that is what life means. Like I say, I wish him all the best.”
Man Utd have promised to help Woolston get back on his feet, and have offered him various work-experience placements, as well as support with acquiring his coaching badges if he chooses that path.
Elsewhere, Man United have turned to Sevilla boss Julen Lopetegui as a replacement for prime target Erik ten Hag in case the Dutchman fails to resume at Old Trafford in the summer.
The former Real Madrid and Spanish national team manager is on contract at the Andalusian club until 2024. However, he was on United’s initial shortlist to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but was way down the list.
With the other main option Mauricio Pochettino looking like a bad idea due to his recent performances at Paris Saint-Germain, Lopetegui has been stepped up the list and the United hierarchy have reportedly begun working on him as a contingency for ten Hag.