Andy Wilkinson announces retirement after concussion injury
By Amy Lewis
Last Updated: 19/02/16 6:53pm
Former Stoke defender Andy Wilkinson has been forced to retire after failing to recover from a concussion injury suffered over a year ago.
Wilkinson, 31, suffered a blow to the head after he was struck by the ball during Stoke's FA Cup tie against Blackburn on February 14, 2015.
The injury caused Wilkinson to suffer brain damage which affected the defender's vision and made him feel sick, particularly after training sessions.
"It was just volleyed straight in my temple and it shook me," Wilkinson told Sky Sports News HQ.
"I sprinted back and completely lost my right peripheral vision. I'd just got back in the team so I just played on and didn't let anyone know. I played most of the game without being able to see on my right side.
"As time went on I developed more things - vertigo, nausea, balance problems. Then I had problems mentally, anger and feeling a bit depressed."
"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," he added.
"Even if tomorrow I woke up fine and the specialists did say it was fine to play, the risk is far too high."
Stoke originally planned to release the defender at the end of the 2014/15 campaign but instead offered him a new six-month contract, which ran out in January.
Wilkinson travelled to the USA three times in order to receive specialist treatment from concussion experts in the hope of reviving his career.
However, those experts have now warned Wilkinson about the high risks of playing, effectively forcing to defender to announce his retirement.
"They say that my depth perception, where I think I am in relation to objects, is different than it actually is. I've got the retrain my ocular motor system to get back to normal."
The FA issued new guidelines in December that suggest a suitable timeframe for players to return to football after suffering a concussion but Wilkinson believes the English game can learn a lot from America.
"I've seen the technology over there which they have going into the sports," he said.
"The baseline test that players can do every pre-season, where you can't fake the tests. If a piece of technology is put on you and you can't make the image out, it proves you shouldn't be in the game any longer."
Wilkinson's former manager, Tony Pulis, has paid tribute to defender following his announcement.
"Wilkinson reflects exactly what that place was about - honest, hardworking person who gave just everything and I mean everything," he said.
"In training, in games, whatever you asked him to do. Any functions around the town, he never ever moaned or groaned and he always did everything to the best of his ability."
Wilkinson, who has number of coaching badges, intends to remain in football following his retirement.