Sam McQueen has announced his retirement from football at the age of 26 years old after failing to recover from a knee injury.
McQueen came through Southampton’s Academy and made his senior debut in February 2014 as a substitute in a FA Cup tie against Sunderland, which the Saints lost 1-0 at Stadium of Light.
A further 28 appearances came between 2016-18 seasons after spending 2015-16 season on loan at Southend, where he scored two goals in 18 appearances.
McQueen went back out on loan in 2018-19 season to Middlesbrough but suffered a career-ending knee injury during their Fourth Round win over Crystal Palace in that season’s EFL Cup, in which he ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
Having initially hoped to make a full recovery, McQueen suffered a recurring infection which triggered further surgeries, with Southampton manager – Ralph Hassenhuttl describing the chances of McQueen playing again as a “miracle”.
McQueen however lost his battle to resume his career and has now decided to make the “incredibly tough decision” to retire from the game after working hard with Southampton’s physiotherapy team to try and rebuild his fitness.
Explaining why he has decided to retire, McQueen revealed that his lack of running has caused his “body to de-condition” to an extent where during training, he world “… 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.”
McQueen proceeded to applaud Southampton for their persistence in trying to help him recover, as he said: “The club have been fantastic and the support I have had around me has been amazing,” across the last three years.
Reflecting on his “nice” time at Southampton, McQueen admitted that the club has formed a huge part in his life as he added: “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.”
Looking ahead to the future, McQueen has vowed to try and make the most of his life as he admitted that the world is now his “oyster”, as he commented: “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.”
Southampton issued ‘heartfelt thanks’ to McQueen for demonstrating ‘incredible commitment and efforts’ on and off the pitch, whilst vowing to continue providing support to the 26 year-old as they ‘wish him the very best for the future and have no doubt he will be successful in whatever he chooses to do.’