Former Liverpool defender Jon Flanagan has been forced to announce his retirement at 29, having seen his career shortened by long-term injuries.
Flanagan broke through as an unlikely key player for Liverpool during their 2013/14 title challenge under Brendan Rodgers, having played 17 times in the three previous seasons.
But after helping come so close to winning the Premier League that term, persistent knee problems began to appear, with the entire 2014/15 campaign spent on the sidelines.
Unable to hold down a regular role in Glasgow, Flanagan went on to join Sporting Charleroi in Belgium and HB Koge in Denmark, departing the latter on the termination of his contract in June.
Now, the 29-year-old has announced his decision to retire due to ongoing knee issues, having fulfilled a boyhood dream of playing for Liverpool and England.
“Unfortunately after careful consideration I have made the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make: to retire from professional football,” Flanagan wrote on Instagram.
“The last 14 months I have tried everything possible to recover from my most recent knee surgery.
“However, ultimately my long-term health has to come first, so following medical advice the right thing for me to do now is retire from the game.
“My dream as a boy was to grow up and play football for a living and today I’m so proud to say I lived that dream.
“Not only playing and captaining my boyhood club Liverpool but also making an appearance for my country, those memories created will last a lifetime and I’m so grateful that I have had the experience many others can only wish for.
“I would like to thank everyone for their support over my journey, especially my girlfriend, family, team-mates, coaches and agents.
“I feel very fortunate to have you all in my life.
“Also, a massive thank you to the fans of Liverpool, Glasgow Rangers, Burnley, Bolton, Charleroi and HB Koge who have supported me throughout.
“You have been great and have made my journey an unforgettable one!
“I will now begin the next chapter of my football journey and I’m excited about what the future brings.
“See you soon, Flanno.”