Southampton midfielder Sam McQueen has announced his decision to retire from professional football at the age of 26 after failing to recover from a major knee injury.
McQueen, who joined his hometown club at the age of eight, has spent more than three years attempting a comeback from the ruptured anterior cruciate ligament he sustained in his right knee while playing on loan for Middlesbrough in October 2018.
However, McQueen, who was out of contract with Southampton, was hit by a series of setbacks, with a recurring infection triggering multiple additional surgeries.
“This has been such an incredibly tough decision to make as I so desperately want to play football again, but I have to do what is right for me and for my family,” he told the club’s website.
“The amount of time I’ve had not on my feet and not running has caused my body to de-condition to such a level that now, when I try to join in any parts of training, I continually get muscle tears in certain areas and my knee’s not able to cope, so I was advised I wouldn’t be able to play football for much longer if I did manage to get back fit.”
McQueen came through the Saints academy to make 20 appearances in the Premier League and played 29 times in total, including starts in both Europa League ties against Inter Milan in 2016.
That helped propel him to an England Under-21 cap in 2017, while he also enjoyed a successful loan spell at Southend as well as Middlesbrough.
A statement from Saints read: “Everyone at Southampton Football Club would like to issue their heartfelt thanks to Sam for his incredible commitment and efforts as a Saints player, as well as for the way he has conducted himself off the pitch.
“He will continue to have our support and will be a shining example for all young players coming through the club’s academy.”