Football: Joe Thompson announces retirement

Date published: 05 February 2019

Rochdale midfielder Joe Thompson has today (Tuesday 5 February) announced his retirement from football.

Joe, a two-time canccer survivor, said: “My decision to retire has been one of the hardest I’ve ever had to make. After several discussions with my specialists and consultants it is with a heavy heart that I am retiring from the game I love.

“I have battled through some of life's hardest challenges and have managed to overcome them. However, I’ve pushed my body to the absolute limit. My mind has grown stronger but with the intense treatment my body has had to endure over the last six years it is no longer able to perform to the demands of the professional game.

“I owe it to my body and also to my family who have all seen me go through hell on more than one occasion. I would like to thank them dearly; particularly my wife Chantelle, my mum Michelle, brother Reuben and my amazing daughter Lula. You have all been my light in my darkest days.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my teammates, my manager Keith Hill and all the staff at Rochdale. You are truly an unbelievable group of people. Thank you for all the support and faith you have put in me over the years. It has been an honour and a privilege to work alongside you all and create memories I shall cherish forever.

“I am a firm believer that when one door closes another door opens. I’m looking forward to all the new opportunities that will come my way. I am hugely excited to enter the world of motivational speaking, mentoring and the media. I believe I have a duty to mentor to younger professionals in the game. I also feel my story has the power to help others in all walks of life to overcome their own adversities and empower them to fulfil their potential.


Joe Thompson celebrates his goal in front of the Dale fans.
Joe Thompson celebrates a goal at Port Vale in 2009


“A special mention must go to the board at Rochdale, both past and present, who alongside the PFA, have dealt with my situation with the utmost professionalism. 

“Last but not least, I would like to thank the footballing world, especially the Rochdale fans who have been with me since I made my debut 13 years ago. That goal at the end of last season meant the world to me, to be able to share that with you all made me immensely proud. I’ve received thousands of messages from football fans around the world and it’s been truly humbling. I cannot thank you enough.

“Without my family and football, I honestly can say I don’t know whether I’d be here. Don’t live life to survive, live to thrive.

“It’s been a pleasure.”

The former pupil at St Vincent’s Primary School in Norden and St Cuthbert’s High School, spent six years at Rochdale Football Club in the first team before moving to Tranmere Rovers in 2012.

After defeating cancer for the second time, Joe made an emotional return to play for Rochdale in their FA Cup replay against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley in February 2018, realising a dream of playing at the national stadium – and scoring the goal that meant Dale survived relegation from League One on the final day of the 2017/18 season.

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