Sheffield United winger and ex-Portsmouth and Charlton man Ricky Holmes admits defeat in battle to save career

Former Pompey player of the season Ricky Holmes has revealed he is set to retire from football this summer.

Monday, 4th May 2020, 3:32 pm
Updated Tuesday, 5th May 2020, 11:42 am
Ricky Holmes is all smiles during happier times at Fratton Park - a club he regrets leaving. Picture: Joe Pepler

The Sheffield United winger has not played for 16 months after aggravating the back problem which has plagued his career.

He developed the issue while working on a Horsham building site for six months during non-league days with Chelmsford City.

The injury has since dogged his time in football, during spells at Barnet, Pompey, Northampton, Charlton, Oxford United and Gillingham.

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Now it will force Holmes’ retirement at the age of 32 – following just five Blades appearances since his January 2018 arrival from Charlton.

He told The News: ‘At the age of 22, I made it late in the Football League. I’m 32 now, so that’s 10 years of graft with my back – and it has finally got the better of me.

‘I have been back at Sheffield for 15 months and had an operation to shave down the bulging disks in my back, which worked. I felt great and was back – then the same thing happened on my right-hand side.

‘I was due to have a CT scan last month, but obviously couldn’t have it because everything has shut down.

Ricky Holmes has also played for Charlton during his playing career. Picture: Shannon Lucey

‘It might need an operation, but I am reluctant. I am 33 in the summer and am thinking “Do I have another operation to play 2-3 more years?”.

‘Probably not, but I’m still in pain from day-to-day, so I need to get something sorted.

‘Retirement in the summer looks imminent really. I think it’s inevitable, just for my health.

‘We’ve recently had a baby and you don’t want to get to 40 and not be able to play in the park with them, do you.

Ricky Holmes made 62 appearances for Pompey, scoring twice. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘At the end of the day, it is just a game, albeit we’re in love with it. I want to retire on my own terms, it has been one hell of an injury.’

Holmes made 62 appearances for Pompey, scoring twice, after arriving on a free transfer from Barnet in the summer of 2013.

During his one-and-a-half season spell, he was crowned The News/Sports Mail’s Player of the Season for 2013-14.

He added: ‘I was at Chelmsford in non-league and worked on a building site for six months, which is where I first got a back injury.

‘It was a building side in Horsham, we were ripping out a boarding school, and one day I lifted a wheelbarrow and felt I’d been shot in the lower back. I've struggled ever since with it.

‘When I moved to Northampton from Pompey, I found a treatment called prolotherapy. It’s a course of injections to strengthen my ligaments around the area of the back and was a dream, the best thing I ever got.

‘It was like somebody had given me a new lease of life. For the first time I had no back pain, I thought it was the answer, and my career really lifted.

‘However, it has worn off over the years, so I got it again when I was on loan at Oxford – and it has never been the same.’

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