Ex-Portsmouth, Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday, Derby, Ipswich and Blackpool forward Luke Varney retires

Former Pompey striker Luke Varney has hung up his boots.

By Mark McMahon
Tuesday, 2nd November 2021, 11:19 am
Updated Tuesday, 2nd November 2021, 11:22 am
Former Pompey striker Luke Varney.  Picture: Allan Hutchings.
Former Pompey striker Luke Varney. Picture: Allan Hutchings.

The 39-year-old much-travelled front man announced his retirement from the game over the weekend after 513 appearances and 104 goals for 11 different Football League clubs.

His decision comes just months after returning to Quorn AFC – the Leicestershire-based Uhlsport United Counties League premier division north club Varney began his career at and where a stand still remains from the proceeds of his £50,000 sale to Crewe in 2002.

Burton was his last senior team, with Varney returning to the Pirelli Stadium – after a spell there during the 2018-18 season in the summer of 2020 – in a fitness coach/player role.

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However, he left the League One outfit at the end of last season, prompting a return to Quorn.

As well as Burton and Crewe, Varney played for Charlton – after the Addicks paid £2m for him in 2007 – Derby Sheffield Wednesday, Blackpool, Pompey, Leeds, Blackburn, Ipswich, Cheltenham.

His footballing journey took him to Fratton Park in July 2011, when new Pompey owners Convers Sports Initiatives allowed Steve Cotteril to splash out £750,000 on the then Derby marksman.

But his time at PO4 was just short after the club went into administration.

After six goals in 31 appearances, he joined Leeds United on a free transfer.

Speaking to The News earlier this year about his Blues career and his exit, Varney said: ‘I sometimes think our situation as players was misunderstood,’ added Varney.

‘I know there were a couple of players who wanted money going forward (Dave Kitson and Tal Ben Haim), but most of us didn’t.

‘For some of us, it was purely about money we were owed from the previous six months.

‘I left three years worth of money behind, bearing in mind the remainder of my contract. I was never going to hold the club to ransom.

‘As long as I got another contract elsewhere – which I did at Leeds – I was willing to ask only for what I was owed.

‘Finances are relative, aren’t they. I know a lot of lads were ringing their mortgage company asking if they could have a bit of a holiday from paying.

‘Many people have their mortgage over 25 years, whereas footballers try to pay it off as quickly as possible. It’s a short career, that income level doesn’t continue when you retire.

‘Some of our lads had short-term mortgage payments over five years and, with no pay, were having trouble meeting them.

‘I remember one lad – I won’t mention his name – struggled to pay for his hotel. He was down here on loan, so that was wrong.

‘I’m a positive person, I tried to keep most of the lads’ spirits up, but you can't in that situation because you know they have individual battles going on.

‘I have been back to Fratton Park since and wouldn’t say I got the greatest reception. I can probably understand it to a certain level, but I think my situation was a little misunderstood.’