Carl Ikeme retires aged just 32 after leukemia cancer battle

Wolves goalkeeper Carl Ikeme has announced his retirement from football at the age of just 32 on doctor’s advice after a year-long battle with cancer.

The Nigeria international revealed last month that he was in ‘complete remission’ after being diagnosed with acute leukemia in July last year.

Ikeme made 274 domestic career appearances in all competitions, with over 200 of them coming for Wolves, the club he joined in 2000 as a 14-year-old.

The stopper went on to win two promotions, and ten international caps for Nigeria.

Of the decision, Ikeme said: “Speaking to the doctor, he said I should retire, just because the treatment and the toll it’s taken on my body.

“I can’t really risk trying to come back, I just want to be here for my children and family and friends.

“It’s difficult when you look back at the things you’ve gone through in your football career but in the grand scheme of things with your life in danger, it’s the minimum price to pay to have a life with my family.”

Following the custodian’s decision, the Premier League new-boys posted an emotive statement on their club website.

“Managing director Laurie Dalrymple said: “While this news will undoubtedly leave the Wolves family feeling sadness for someone they care about deeply, it also gives us the opportunity to celebrate an exceptional career and a true servant of this football club.

“A brilliant goalkeeper who deservedly earned promotions and international caps, Carl’s exemplary application on the pitch was matched off it by tireless hard work and a positive attitude that will continue to be an inspiration for young players coming through our Academy for many years to come.

“I have been in touch with Carl regularly during a very difficult year for him and his family, and I have been constantly in awe of his strength, positivity and heart at a time of great adversity.

“Carl will, without doubt, be a permanent member of the Wolves family, and I am certain he has a very bright future ahead of him in whatever path he chooses to take.”

And sporting director Kevin Thelwell added: “I have had the honour and privilege to work alongside Carl for the duration of my time at Wolves, and you would be hard pressed to find a more dedicated and hard working professional.

“The outpouring of support and love from our supporters this time last year, and throughout Carl’s treatment has been testament to how we all feel about Carl, and we are delighted that he is now in complete remission.

“However, it is definitely his contribution on the pitch that he will be most remembered for at Wolves, and forever held as inspiration to future generations of our Academy.

“I’m looking forward to seeing more of Carl this season, and seeing him back at Molineux where he belongs.”

The 32-year-old was diagnosed with the condition just under a year ago, seeing him miss the entirety of last season.

The condition was spotted during a routine pre-season check-up at Wolves, the club Ikeme made his professional debut for back in 2003.

But the Nigerian international confirmed on his social media that he is now cancer-free.

Ikeme said: “After a tough year and intense chemotherapy throughout I would like to let everyone know I am in complete REMISSION.”

Ikeme was named as the 24th man in Nigeria’s World Cup squad , as a sign of honour for their ill shot-stopper.

Prior to their game against the Super Eagles, Iceland showed their support in his ongoing fight beat the disease.

Wolves executive chairman Jeff Shi said: “Having been at the club since the age of 14, Carl is far more than just a player in our eyes – he is our brother and an important part of our family.

“When Carl came to tell us his news, yes there was sadness, but also great happiness to see him so healthy and hungry for the opportunities that lay ahead of him.

“Carl is strong, a fighter, something he has proven in his playing career and also during what has been a very challenging time for him, so I have no doubt he will be a success in whatever he does next.

“We wish Carl all the very best for the future, but remind him he will always remain a part of the Wolves family.”

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