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Wolves keeper Carl Ikeme retires from football

By Tim Spiers | Wolves | Published:

Wolves goalkeeper Carl Ikeme has retired from professional football, it has been announced.

Carl Ikeme recently pictured at Solihull Hospital

The 32-year-old has made the decision on medical advice.

Ikeme was diagnosed with acute leukaemia a year ago. After prolonged treatment he recently revealed he was in remission.

He said today: "I spoke with the doctor and he suggested I should retire, because of the toll the treatment has taken on my body.

"He thinks it's what is best for me and I can't really risk trying to come back, my health is the priority.

"I want to be here for my children, family and friends.

"In the grand scheme of things with your life in danger it's the minimum price I have to pay to spend the rest of my time with my family."

Ikeme may now continue to work with the club in a behind-the-scenes capacity.

He added: "There's nothing concrete I want to do. In the near future I'll come to games and catch up with people.

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"I'm definitely going to enjoy being around the club, experiencing the good and bad times, but I'll definitely be in and around the club."

Wolves executive chairman Jeff Shi said: “Having been at the club since the age of 14, Carl is far more than just a player in our eyes - he is our brother and an important part of our family.

“When Carl came to tell us his news, yes there was sadness, but also great happiness to see him so healthy and hungry for the opportunities that lay ahead of him.

“Carl is strong, a fighter, something he has proven in his playing career and also during what has been a very challenging time for him, so I have no doubt he will be a success in whatever he does next.

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“We wish Carl all the very best for the future, but remind him he will always remain a part of the Wolves family.”

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Wolves managing director Laurie Dalrymple said: “While this news will undoubtedly leave the Wolves family feeling sadness for someone they care about deeply, it also gives us the opportunity to celebrate an exceptional career and a true servant of this football club.

“A brilliant goalkeeper who deservedly earned promotions and international caps, Carl’s exemplary application on the pitch was matched off it by tireless hard work and a positive attitude that will continue to be an inspiration for young players coming through our Academy for many years to come.

“I have been in touch with Carl regularly during a very difficult year for him and his family, and I have been constantly in awe of his strength, positivity and heart at a time of great adversity.

“Carl will, without doubt, be a permanent member of the Wolves family, and I am certain he has a very bright future ahead of him in whatever path he chooses to take.”

Wolves sporting director Kevin Thelwell said: “I have had the honour and privilege to work alongside Carl for the duration of my time at Wolves, and you would be hard pressed to find a more dedicated and hard working professional.

“The outpouring of support and love from our supporters this time last year, and throughout Carl’s treatment has been testament to how we all feel about Carl, and we are delighted that he is now in complete remission.

“However, it is definitely his contribution on the pitch that he will be most remembered for at Wolves, and forever held as inspiration to future generations of our Academy.

“I’m looking forward to seeing more of Carl this season, and seeing him back at Molineux where he belongs.”

Ikeme began life with Wolves aged just 14, progressing through the club's academy.

He made his debut in Wolves colours aged 21 in August 2005 for a League Cup tie against Chester, which Wolves won 5-1.

With the likes of Matt Murray and Wayne Hennessey ahead of him in the pecking order Ikeme spent the next few seasons on loan at a variety of clubs including Stockport County, Charlton Athletic, Queens Park Rangers, Leicester City, Middlesbrough and Doncaster.

His breakthrough at Wolves came in 2008/09 when he played 13 times for Mick McCarthy's Championship title-winning side that won promotion to the Premier League.

After a few years as understudy he became the club's undisputed number one keeper in 2012/13 under Stale Solbakken.

The following season saw Ikeme play a crucial role at Wolves won the League One title with a record points total.

He continued in goal for the next two seasons in the Championship before being diagnosed with leukaemia in July last year.

In total he played 207 times for Wolves and made a further 67 appearances for eight loan clubs.

Ikeme, born in Sutton Coldfield, also earned international recognition with Nigeria, for whom he qualified to play for his father.

After winning a first call-up in 2015 he helped the team qualify for the recent World Cup in Russia. Ikeme was named as the '24th man' of a 23-man World Cup squad with boss Gernot Rohr calling Ikeme's forced absence from his team 'his biggest regret'.

Tim Spiers

By Tim Spiers
@tim_spiers_Star

Writes about Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club for a living

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