Football: Injury forces out Mabbutt

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The Independent Online
GARY MABBUTT has been forced to bring an end to his playing career after finally admitting defeat in his efforts to return to football after a serious knee injury.

The former Tottenham defender has been told by a specialist to retire, ending a four-month rehabilitation after surgery to repair a fragmented knee cap.

Mabbutt had been considering offers from other clubs following the expiry of his contract at Spurs last summer, but his future depended on being given a clean bill of health by a specialist. Those plans have now been shelved by the 37- year-old, as the latest in a long line of problems has taken its toll.

Having been diagnosed a diabetic in his early teens, once lapsing into a coma when he missed an insulin injection, Mabbutt had his cheekbone shattered by John Fashanu in 1993 and suffered a broken leg on the opening day of the 1996-97 season. But despite being forced to retire, the former England international, who won 16 caps, insisted: "Why should I be bitter?"

He added: "I've had a fantastic career and played for one of the biggest clubs in the country for 16 years, and also played for my country. I have a lovely wife and beautiful daughter. I have had nothing to complain about, have I?"

Mabbutt was a member of Spurs' 1984 Uefa Cup-winning side, and after scoring an own goal to gift Coventry the FA Cup three years later, went on to lift the trophy as captain in 1991 after a 2-1 win over Nottingham Forest. In all, he made 618 appearances for Tottenham, scoring 36 goals, but the injuries caught up with him.

He said: "When my contract at Tottenham finished last summer I had a number of offers to become a player-manager, player-coach or remain as a player. As my main love in the game has been to play, I wanted to continue as a player for as long as I could.

"Unfortunately, I left Tottenham with a knee injury that I had picked up during last season and although the problem seemed minor, I wanted to get the knee sorted out before signing for a new club.

"After a meeting with my specialist to discuss the situation, it has been decided that it is in my best interests to retire from professional football.

"I will now wait and see what opportunities arise before making a decision on my future."

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