Former Stoke defender Andy Wilkinson has been forced to retire from the game following a head injury suffered a year ago.
The full-back suffered concussion in an FA Cup tie with Blackburn in February of last year and has been forced to call time on his career at the age of 31.
Wilkinson, who made 194 senior appearances for the club he joined from Stoke’s academy, has been suffering with a number of symptoms since the ball struck his head from close range and ongoing problems have forced the one-club man to call time on his career.
“Over a year on from the injury there are still a lot of things going on with my brain, my vision, my neck – all sorts of different symptoms – and even if tomorrow I woke up fine and the specialist did say it was fine to play, the risk is far too high,” said Wilkinson in an interview with Sky Sports News.
When he suffered the injury Wilkinson played on, explaining: “It was just volleyed straight at my temple. It shook me and I sprinted back and I just completely lost my right peripheral vision.
“Just getting back into the team I wanted to carry on and didn’t let anyone know and played most of the game without being able to see much to the right.
“As time went on I suffered with other things – vertigo, nausea, balance problems. Then problems mentally with anger, feeling a bit depressed.”
Wilkinson, who has problems with depth perception, added: “I’ve got to retrain all my ocular motor system to get back to normal.”
Stoke had given Wilkinson a short-term contract in July of last year but after three trips to see a specialist in the United States he has decided to retire.
The club have offered him a testimonial and he plans to donate the money raised to local charities and research into concussion injuries. He also hopes to have a career in coaching.
West Brom boss Tony Pulis was previously Wilkinson’s manager at Stoke and paid tribute to the defender.
“Wilkinson reflects exactly what the place is about. He was an honest hard-working person who gave just about everything, and I mean everything, in training, in games,” said Pulis.
“Whatever you asked him to do, whether you asked him to do any functions around the town, he never ever moaned or groaned. He would always do everything to the best of his ability.”