Retired Player of the Century

a thank-you from RITCHIE HUMPHREYS 

After 23 years as a trainee and professional footballer I retired from professional football in the summer and I would like to thank all the people who have helped me along the way, coaches, managers, volunteers, club staff, supporters and of course my team mates and fellow professionals.  

The staff and the supporters of all of the clubs I’ve played for have all played a part in my experience as a professional footballer; I feel I have more than fulfilled my boyhood dream to be a professional footballer by managing to play for so many years. It has been a privilege to play over 700 professional games.

Playing for one of my home city's teams was a tremendous honour for a boy from Sheffield. My youth apprenticeship and 5 years as a pro at Sheffield Wednesday was fantastic and playing alongside the senior players they had at that time gave me a good understanding of what it takes to continue in this fantastic profession.

My spell at Cambridge United was enjoyable yet short. Spending the last four years of my career at Chesterfield FC has been professionally rewarding; getting a league winners medal, playing in a cup final at Wembley and receiving the prestigious honour of being the Chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association, a role offering me the privilege of representing all members of the PFA.
"the memories of all the highs and lows will remain with me forever"

Of course a special mention for the club I spent 13 seasons playing for, Hartlepool United. My time in the north east will always be a special memory for me and my family. By the time I left in 2013 I’d managed to break the all time appearance record for the club, which now stands at 543, had a testimonial and was part of a team which was the most successful in the club's history.

So many great people to thank and life long friends made with team mates I had.
I’d also like to thank the staff and supporters of the clubs at which I had short loan spells. Scunthorpe United, Cardiff City and Port Vale.

With a young family I now look forward to watching them grow up and have their own hobbies and interests. I know for sure that without the help of my parents as a youngster my career as a professional footballer wouldn’t have been possible. With the amount of dedication and commitment required in professional sport it’s not always possible to be as sociable as you’d like and attend certain events. So I have to thank my closest friends and family for the support and understanding over the years and of course my amazing wife.

It has been a privilege to have had the job that I dreamt of having as a kid. I am no longer a professional footballer, but the memories of all the highs and lows will remain with me forever.

Thank you football.