Long-serving keeper Tommy Lee has announced his retirement from playing due to injury.
The 31-year-old was forced to miss the entire 2016/17 campaign after suffering a shoulder injury which required several operations. He made his comeback in pre-season and has made seven appearances this term, the last of which came in the recent 2-2 draw at home to Carlisle United.
Persistent pain has, however, forced Lee to take the decision to quit. He said: “It’s obviously been a tough decision for me to make, but my shoulder has caused me a lot of pain on a daily basis and it’s started to affect my everyday life, which is something I’ve not experienced before in my career.
“I have to think about my future and what my body will be like after football. I think retirement from playing was my only option, which is a great shame. The process of getting to this point has been tough and it’s probably a decision I should have made in the summer but I wanted to give it one more go.
“Chesterfield gave me a chance at a career and the club has been a massive part of my life. I’ve had a great relationship with the fans and I’d like to thank them for making my time at the club so special. I’d also like to thank the club for the professional way they have handled the situation.”
Director & company secretary Ashley Carson said: “It is terribly sad to hear that Tommy has had to retire from playing. He has been a fans’ favourite and I am positive that if he had been in goal last season, we would not have been relegated.
“It is no surprise, given Tommy’s commitment to Chesterfield, that he expressed the feeling that he has let the club down. I assured him that he has nothing to apologise for as he has been a loyal and valued member of the squad for a decade and I know that he would give anything to continue playing.
“Tommy has been offered a testimonial match as part of next season’s home pre-season fixtures. Further details on that will be announced in due course. A role at the club was also offered to Tommy, but he turned that down as he wanted a clean break, which I can understand.
“On behalf of the owner, chairman and the board, I would like to send best wishes to Tommy, who will always be made to feel very welcome at the club.”
Manager Jack Lester added: “Tommy is a fantastic lad who’s been an excellent professional and I’ve shared some of my best moments on a pitch with him. I’m so sorry that he’s had to retire prematurely and I’d like to wish him all the very best for the future.”
Lee, who was at Manchester United as a youngster, joined Chesterfield in the summer of 2008 after being released by Macclesfield. He made a total of 373 appearances for the Spireites.
A highly popular figure at the club, Lee featured in two League Two title-winning sides and helped Chesterfield win the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in 2012 when they beat Swindon Town 2-0 at Wembley.