Club captain Dave Mackay has today announced his retirement as a player.
The man who lifted the Scottish Cup in 2014 has been battling the effects of a hip injury since the summer of that year and has undergone two operations in a bid to rectify the problem. However, although both operations have brought about a degree of improvement, Dave doesn't feel that he can reach the physical level needed for continued first team football.
Speaking to the Saints website, Dave said: “I've been aware of this issue for the past couple of years and although the first operation brought about a level of improvement that enabled me to get back playing and feeling fine, there was a gradual deterioration again over a period of time to the extent that I was unable to train.
“A second operation followed which again helped but not to the extent that I feel that I can get back to the fitness levels needed for fulltime football.
“The decision hasn't been an easy one but I've had to take into consideration that I don't want to do irreversible damage that affects me away from football - I'm only 35 and have a lot of years ahead of me that I don't want to be affected.
“I've probably known in my own mind that this decision had to be made and I'm happy that I've given myself every chance to get back playing but it's not to be.”
Dave won't be lost to the club in the near future as he has started to put his A Licence coaching badge to good effect by providing additional assistance with the club's Under 20s and discussions are ongoing about other roles he can play at McDiarmid Park.
Dave continues: “I'll obviously miss playing but my decision opens up plenty of other opportunities for me both short and long term and I'm thoroughly enjoying my involvement with the Under 20s just now.
“The club has done everything it could have to help in my recovery and I thank them for that and I thank the fans for their support over the past seven years and assure them I'll be around the club for some time yet.”
Manager Tommy Wright says “We've been aware of this possible outcome for a few weeks now and it's disappointing news for Dave and the club but ultimately he is still a young man and it's the best decision for him and that's all that matters.
“I could go on all day about what Dave has done for Saints but that is well documented in the club history books. The simple truth is that I'm losing a great player and my captain. Very few players can be described as irreplaceable but Dave comes close. He has recently been helping out with the under 20s and I know the Chairman is speaking with him regarding continued involvement at the club. He'll be missed in the dressing room with his leadership qualities and dry sense of humour and on behalf of myself, my staff and the players we wish him every success in the future.”
Chairman Steve Brown said of the announcement: “Dave is quite rightly regarded as a club legend and the fact that he has been a regular in the team under three different managers is the best indication of how highly he is regarded in footballing terms. We are all disappointed that he is having to bring his career to a premature end but he had to consider his long term health and this is a sensible decision especially given that he has a young family.
“We will endeavour to keep Dave in and around the club on match days and also during the week where we will provide every assistance to him as he attempts to build his coaching experience and gain additional coaching badges.”
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