There was some sad news to kick off 2022 when Southampton announced that academy product Sam McQueen has been forced to retire due to injury.
Only aged 26, McQueen has spent over three years trying to make a successful recovery from the knee injury he picked up while on loan at Middlesbrough in October 2018.
That recovery never happened due to a series of cruel setbacks, with a recurring infection causing multiple additional surgeries according to the official club statement.
McQueen has made the tough decision to retire and Saints released an emotional video interview that sees the defender share his story.
“This has been such an incredibly tough decision to make, as I so desperately want to play football again, but I have to do what is right for me and for my family,” said McQueen.
“The amount of time I’ve had not on my feet and not running has caused my body to de-condition to such a level that now when I try to join in any parts of training I continually get muscle tears in certain areas and my knee’s not able to cope, so I was advised I wouldn’t be able to play football for much longer if I did manage to get back fit.”
This is Sam McQueen’s story, in his own words ❤️ pic.twitter.com/Mr1BFF59C6— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) January 1, 2022
McQueen joined Southampton aged eight and was part of the same Saints academy group that included James Ward-Prowse, Luke Shaw, Calum Chambers and Harrison Reed.
Like the others, McQueen made it to the Southampton first team - making 20 appearances in the Premier League and heavily featuring in Saints’ Europa League journey in 2016, where he appeared in both ties against Internazionale.
McQueen also represented England at Under-21 level, earning a cap in 2017.
According to the club’s article, McQueen has spent the last two-and-a-half years trying to mount a comeback since his final surgery in July 2019 by working six days a week at Staplewood.
Despite those extra efforts, he made the decision to call it a day and talked of his bittersweet time of a professional footballer at Southampton.
“The club have been fantastic and the support I have had around me has been amazing,” he said.
“I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on my time at the club, and that has been nice. It’s made me realise how much a part of my life this club is and how much it means to me. It’s been like a father figure in a way. It’s given me guidance, it’s given me things to try to achieve, and it’s pushed me and encouraged me.
“I’m very proud of the things that I have achieved here. I’m sad that there wasn’t more, but later in life I’ll be able to look back on the memories I have, of playing against Inter Milan, being around a Premier League team and travelling with the squad and the passion of the fans at the games.
“Now I’m going to try to make the most of the rest of the life that I’ve got. The world’s my oyster. I can do anything I want really, and I’m excited about that. I’m sad that football might end, but the options out there in the world I’m starting to open my mind up to and looking forward to it, just trying to cherish it with my family, partner and children.”
We wish Sam nothing but the best for him and his family in the future.