Kevin Phillips: I'm retiring with many great memories

Striker announces decision to hang up boots at end of the season

LEEDS, ENGLAND - JANUARY 18:Kevin Phillips of Leicester City during the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Leicester City at Elland Road o
Image: Kevin Phillips: Hanging up his boots

After 20 amazing years as a professional footballer, I've decided to announce my retirement.

I will play my final game for Leicester on Saturday, at our home ground, having won the Championship title - and that seems like the perfect way to bow out.

I've had many great memories during my career. Now I'm moving onto the next stage.
Quote - Kevin Phillips

After scoring the winner to get Crystal Palace promoted at the end of last season there were a few voices in the back of my head saying 'maybe I should retire now'. But I decided to continue for another season for the chance to play in the Premier League as a 40-year-old.

I managed to do that earlier in this campaign - joining an exclusive group of three other players who have played in the Premier League as 40-year-olds - but now the time is right.

After a lot of consideration and time spent talking with my family, the Leicester manager Nigel Pearson and my agent, I think the time has come. I turn 41 in July and I just feel now, with sore ankles and the way my body is, it's not going to get any easier.

All my family will be at the King Power Stadium this weekend and it's going to be emotional. However, although it's going to be a strange feeling leaving the pitch for the final time as a player, now's the right time.

If I'm being honest, I wasn't tempted by one more go at the Premier League. Last year I kind of knew I was going to carry on but this year, no. I've been seriously thinking about it over the last four or five weeks and I think it's the right decision to make.

There are other opportunities, looking forward now, that I want to pursue and that's kind of made my mind up as well.

Plus, I don't particularly relish the idea of putting myself through another pre-season!

Fortunate

Looking back on my career I feel fortunate to say that there have been so many highs - and many more highs than lows.

The five promotions to the Premier League have been great, especially the last two because they've come late on in my career, and to be the top scorer in the top flight - and win the European Golden Boot in 2000 - was incredible.

But if I could pick one special moment, it would have to be pulling on an England shirt for the first time.

As a kid, growing up, all I ever wanted to do was play for my country. When I got that opportunity - when I was still a First Division player with Sunderland - it was a dream come true.

To wear that Three Lions shirt away in Hungary was amazing and to do it seven more times after that was phenomenal for me, a player who came out of non-league into the professional game quite late on at 20.

People always ask you if you have any regrets, but I really don't. I've achieved everything I set out to when I was a young kid - and more.

Promotions, relegations, cup final victories - I've experienced it all. It's been an exciting career. Every kid dreams of playing for teams like Man United and Chelsea, winning Premier League titles, but I've certainly enjoyed my career and have no regrets whatsoever.


Sunderland

The club I'm sure most football fans associate me with is Sunderland. That was where I made my name and I've still got huge affection for that football club.

Whenever I go back there I'm always made to feel very welcome and I have to give them a huge thank you for their support.

The Sunderland fans have been amazing to me when I've gone back to play against them or been at the Stadium of Light working for Sky and I sincerely hope they stay in the Premier League this season.

The six years I had up there were awesome. Obviously it ended in disappointment with relegation but it was an amazing time, a lovely place to live and I met some great people. The North East people in general are very humbling.

There are a lot of people I'd like to thank: the managers I've worked with, the players who have helped me and the football clubs I've played for - plus many others I don't have room to list here.

Ultimately the biggest thank you would have to be to my family, though. Me and my wife went into my career together and 20 years on we're still married!

There have been a lot of challenges along the way but my family have been a massive, massive help for me throughout my career.

Future

So, what next? I hear a lot of stories about players finding it difficult when they hang up their boots but I'm hoping with the opportunities I've got in front of me I'll be kept pretty busy. I'm lucky in that respect.

The manager at Leicester has offered me a position in the coaching staff, with a role with the first team for next season, which I'd like to pursue. That should mean that this summer I'll be just as busy, if not busier, than the actual players on the training field!

I also want to continue my media career and take that to another level, as well, so these are exciting times for me.

You can't beat the buzz of match day, though: traveling to the ground, warming up on the pitch... that feeling is very special. Then, being a striker, there's nothing better than hitting the back of the net.

I'd love to do that one last time on Saturday. But if it doesn't happen then I've had many great memories during my career.

Now I'm moving onto the next stage.

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