GLENAVON legend Tony Grant has been forced to call a halt to his playing career.
The 35 year-old forward, who scored 116 goals in 302 appearances during his three spells at the club, has had to call time on his career following medical advice regarding long-term back and groin problems that he has suffered from since 2005.
Speaking from his home in Balbriggan. Tony told the www.glenavonfc.com website that it has been one of the toughest decisions he has ever had to make.
“I know I signed a new contract for next season and I am so disappointed and feel like I am letting the club down but, injury-wise, the pain is unbearable at the moment and my specialist and the physio have advised that I need to give up playing football,” he said.
“I had two injections and was due another but they only ease the pain and don’t cure the underlying problem which is a kind of arthritis in the pelvis that would only get worse if I kept on playing.
“I thought it was best to give Gary (Hamilton) a chance to go out and look for another striker as soon as I knew I wouldn’t be able to continue. I want to thank Gary for bringing me back in but I wouldn’t have been doing him any justice trying to play with this injury.
“I’ve had a great time at the club over the years and I’d like to thank the board, the club and all the fans for their faith in me. I am a Glenavon supporter as well and I’ll be up at Mourneview Park whenever I can to watch the team. I wish Gary and the lads all the best for next season.”
Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton is of course disappointed to lose Grant, a player whom he regards as the most complete professional he has ever worked with.
“At the end of the day, life and health are more important than football and I have to respect Tony’s decision,” he also told the club website.
“He has to do what’s best for him and his family. It’s refreshing to come across someone like Tony; plenty of players would have collected their wages and tried to get fit but Tony wanted to do the right thing for Glenavon and this releases funds so I can look for a replacement.
“It’s a massive blow to lose Tony, who I feel played a huge part in us staying up last season with his assists and his all-round play. I particularly remember him setting up the two goals in the Irish Cup game against Portadown, but we will have to move on.
“I would have been happy with the four forward players we had lined up for next season (Grant, Gary himself, Andrew Mitchell and Matty Burrows), although I would have added another striker if one came along. My main concern has been strengthening the defence and midfield but we will have another look at what forwards are out there. It’s not easy to find decent strikers.”