Bristol Rovers defender Nick Anderton has announced his retirement from professional football, the day before his 27th birthday.
He was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, last July after he underwent a routine scan on what he thought was a leg injury.
In a statement, the former Blackpool, Carlisle United, Accrington Stanley and Barrow defender has confirmed he’s been forced to retire from the game due to his illness and the operations he's needed, which has included a full knee replacement.
He said: "I've had six months to prepare some words for this moment and I still don't know what to say."
"It's been extremely difficult to come to terms with but I've decided today is the day to announce at the age of 26 I have to retire from professional football.
"This is due to an operation I had in October 2022 to remove a cancerous tumour from my right femur. This resulted in a complete knee replacement, and a further 12cm of my femur replaced.
"There was optimism that I could return to playing after the initial planned operation or treatment but a scan five days prior revealed it would not be safe if they didn't replace the full joint, therefore the operation changed.
"Looking back on the last 10 years, I have nothing but fond memories. To every club I've represented, thank you for the opportunity.
"To every manager and coach I've worked under, thank you for the time you've invested in me.
"To every player, I've shared a dressing room with and every player I've competed against on the pitch, thank you. It's been an absolute pleasure.
"I want to say a massive thank you to every single person who sent messages, donated and said a prayer. Your kind words and support for my family throughout this journey has been incredible and we can't thank you enough.
"It's given me even more motivation to continue fighting and to complete every single millilitre of chemotherapy that I need. Thank you, Nick."
A fundraiser raised more than £46,000 when the Bristol Rovers squad shaved their heads in solidarity with him in January.
Manager Joey Barton also completed the Manchester marathon for Nick earlier this month. He said he "thought about him all race."