Peterhead’s Nicky Riley says he’s “gutted” to retire – but has to put his long-term future first.
The Blue Toon midfielder, pictured, has decided to hang up his boots after recovering from a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament sustained in January 2018.
The 33-year-old is training to become a PE teacher and while the former Dundee man would love to return to action for the Buchan outfit he doesn’t feel he can take the risk.
Riley said: “It’s been a hard summer getting my head round it, but I’ve decided to retire.
“I spoke to the manager Jim McInally at the end of last season and at that point I was still keen to play.
“So he offered me a contract until the end of August so I could play in pre-season friendlies and League Cup games.
“That was more than I expected from the club and that gave me a chance to come back and see how I was feeling.
“But I want to become a PE teacher and in April I was accepted for the teaching course I’ve been working towards for the last four years at university.
“That’s been playing on my mind because after the injury I had an interview for the teaching course, but I couldn’t go because of my knee.
“Maybe it’s psychological, because my knee does feel good. But if I was to come back and hurt my knee again it would jeopardise the course because you need to be active as a PE teacher.
“I’m gutted to retire, but I feel I’m having to be cautious because my intentions were to get back playing. But I’ve worked really hard to get on to this course and I don’t want to jeopardise it.
“I feel like I’m letting Peterhead down because they’ve given me the help and support to get back fit.
“And I don’t want to feel I’m letting the people at the club down from directors like Ian Grant and Harry Fraser and Jim, everyone’s been brilliant with me.
“I’ve been thinking about it all summer. People say not to stop playing too early, but I suppose the bigger picture is your work for the next 30 years.”
Riley also wanted to thank Peterhead for standing by him after his injury. The Blue Toon paid for his operation and gave him a contract for last season to get him through his rehabilitation as well as offering him the chance to make his comeback this term.
Riley, who joined in October 2014, said: “I can’t speak highly enough of Peterhead as a club, everyone has been fantastic to me.
“Jim especially has given me a lot of support in making this decision because it’s been hard for me to make this call.
“He said I don’t owe Peterhead anything which is nice to hear.
“I want to wish everyone at the club all the best because they’ve been brilliant with me. I’m still planning on going to games because spending Saturday in Ikea or B&Q won’t be as good.”