Southampton Football Club can regrettably confirm that, due to injury, Sam McQueen has taken the decision to retire from playing professional football.
The 26-year-old has spent more than three years attempting a comeback, having suffered a rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee while playing for loan club Middlesbrough in an EFL Cup tie at Crystal Palace in October 2018.
However, McQueen’s subsequent recovery was hit by a series of cruel setbacks, with a recurring infection triggering multiple additional surgeries.
sam mcqueeni so desperately want to play football again, but i have to do what is right for me and my family.
on his decision to retire
Despite significant efforts since then to get back to fitness, the club’s Academy graduate has made the difficult decision to end his playing career following the expiry of his contract at St Mary’s.
“This has been such an incredibly tough decision to make, as I so desperately want to play football again, but I have to do what is right for me and for my family,” said McQueen.
“The amount of time I’ve had not on my feet and not running has caused my body to de-condition to such a level that now when I try to join in any parts of training I continually get muscle tears in certain areas and my knee’s not able to cope, so I was advised I wouldn’t be able to play football for much longer if I did manage to get back fit.”
Southampton-born McQueen’s retirement comes after an incredibly special 18-year spell with the club, which he joined at the age of eight.
A talented left-footer, he was adept at playing both as a full-back or in midfield, and was part of a memorable Academy group that featured the likes of James Ward-Prowse, Luke Shaw, Calum Chambers, Harrison Reed and latterly Jack Stephens.
Like all of those players, McQueen completed the journey through the ranks to make it into the first-team, appearing 20 times in the Premier League for Saints and 29 times in total, which included him starting in both of the Europa League ties against Internazionale in 2016.
That helped propel him to an England Under-21 cap in 2017, while he also enjoyed a successful loan spell at Southend as well as his time at Middlesbrough.
sam mcqueennow i'm going to try to make the most of the rest of the life that i've got. the world's my oyster.
on looking to the future
Since his final surgery in July 2019, McQueen has spent the past two-and-a-half years trying to mount a comeback, working six days a week at Staplewood in a bid to beat the odds.
However, despite the best efforts of himself, alongside the club’s medical and sports science teams, he has made the decision to now look to a future beyond playing.
“The club have been fantastic and the support I have had around me has been amazing,” he said.
“I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on my time at the club, and that has been nice. It’s made me realise how much a part of my life this club is and how much it means to me. It’s been like a father figure in a way. It’s given me guidance, it’s given me things to try to achieve, and it’s pushed me and encouraged me.
“I’m very proud of the things that I have achieved here. I’m sad that there wasn’t more, but later in life I’ll be able to look back on the memories I have, of playing against Inter Milan, being around a Premier League team and travelling with the squad and the passion of the fans at the games.
“Now I’m going to try to make the most of the rest of the life that I’ve got. The world’s my oyster. I can do anything I want really, and I’m excited about that. I’m sad that football might end, but the options out there in the world I’m starting to open my mind up to and looking forward to it, just trying to cherish it with my family, partner and children.”
Everyone at Southampton Football Club would like to issue their heartfelt thanks to Sam for his incredible commitment and efforts as a Saints player, as well as for the way he has conducted himself off the pitch.
He will continue to have our support and will be a shining example for all young players coming through the club’s Academy.
We wish him the very best for the future and have no doubt he will be successful in whatever he chooses to do.