WEXFORD football legend Matty Forde has called time on his illustrious career after 11 seasons in the purple and gold.
The 31-year-old former All Star and GPA Footballer of the Year told the Sunday Independent that he has not rushed his decision to retire, revealing instead that ongoing injuries had weakened his resolve and left him not enjoying Gaelic football for the first time in his time with the Model County.
"I always said the time to bow out was when I was not enjoying it anymore and that time has come," he said. "For the first time ever I wasn't enjoying it and when last year's Championship came to an end I knew that was me done. I had chronic back problems over the past two years and it took a lot out of me.
"The hunger was gone but I took my time over last winter to decide. I met Jason Ryan, told him I wasn't coming back and that's my decision now."
Revealing the extraordinary pain he suffered before undergoing back surgery in 2008, Forde painted a bleak picture.
"For three weeks, I could only sleep 20 or 25 minutes a night. There was chronic sciatica and my legs were weak from it. I would have to get up in the middle of the night to put a hot water bottle on my leg or go for a walk to get some relief. Anti-inflammatories were only like Smarties to me in the end.
"I would have loved to have won Championship silverware. I really would. In a flash, I'd trade all the individual awards just for one Leinster title. Still, I look back on the last 11 years with nothing but happy memories.
"We came from nowhere, hadn't won two games in a row for donkey's years when all this started for me back in 1999 and we ended up beating almost every top team in Ireland during that period, playing in a Leinster final and an All-Ireland semi-final."
In an extensive interview inside, Forde also details how he coped throughout the most harrowing episode of his career when he was suspended for three months for a stamp on Offaly's Shane Sullivan in 2007.
Recalling how low he felt returning home from a lengthy Disputes Resolution Authority (DRA) meeting at 6.30 one morning, he says he went to bed with the weight of the world on his shoulders. He added that he felt like 'Public Enemy No 1'.
But it was one of the few blights on a sensational career. Forde goes down as Wexford's only football All Star, he was recently voted onto the Leinster team of the past 25 years and he represented Ireland in the International Rules series.
He will continue to play with his club, Kilanerin, with whom he has won four senior championships.
See Page 10
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