Richard Chaplow Announces Retirement (Thank you & Goodbye)
This season will be my last as a professional player without doubt the hardest decision I’ve ever made. It hurts to say the words but I’m happy to be doing it on my terms and grateful that I get to walk away from the game I love and excited for the next chapter. I couldn’t have imagined what lay before me when leaving school eighteen years ago to embark on my dream to be a professional footballer.
Today and I have to pinch myself when I look back on the teams I’ve represented Burnley, West Bromwich Albion, Southampton, Preston North End, Millwall, Ipswich Town, Doncaster Rovers, Orange County as well as captaining the England Youth team.
I now stand on the brink of 400 professional appearances as I announce my retirement on the opposite side of the world from where it all began. Its been an incredible journey, I’ve been tested against some of the best players in the world as well as playing in some world-famous stadiums. I gave it everything and cherished every second, looking back now I am extremely proud in what I have achieved.
Right from being a young boy, football has allowed me to experience so much, supporting Burnley following them home & away and then being given the opportunity to pull on the Claret & Blue shirt and play for my boyhood team, was a real privilege!
Scoring goals in front of your supporters is a feeling that cannot be replicated, two goals in particular stand out for me. Manchester United in the FA Cup for Southampton then the late winner at Watford for Ipswich Town chasing a Championship play-off berth. Pure exhilaration and crazy scenes on both occasions.
Being part of a team at Southampton that went from League one to the Premiership and achieving it with a group of individuals, staff members and fans that ended up being like family brought with it some of the best moments in my career, simply unbelievable.
Put all that aside though, the thing I’m most grateful for are the people it’s introduced me to, the connections we made and the experiences we shared. As I’ve moved from club to club I’ve encountered some truly wonderful people who I now class as lifelong friends. I have so many people to thank, however it’s impossible to cover everyone individually.
There are a few though that get a special mention…
To my Mum, Dad & Brother there from the start it wouldn’t have happened without your unconditional love and support. I will be forever grateful for everything you have done for me both on and off the pitch, I love you all.
To my wife and wonderful children, your sacrifices have been incredible, I have no words for what you have given me. Moving all over England, to putting down our roots in California you have stood by me at all times, no questions asked. You complete me, I owe you so much, it’s now your time to flourish.
To every football fan that has ever shouted my name (good or bad), I appreciate your support and I relished every challenge, playing in front of you created memories I will always cherish, I will be forever indebted to you all, you’ve made it special.
To all the staff at the clubs I’ve played for, the work you all do behind the scenes is inspiring. Working away day and night to enable things to run as smoothly as possible for the boys on the pitch is selfless, keep up the good work I will always be thankful.
And finally, to all my coaches, your insight and leadership has been invaluable throughout. From the moment I started kicking a ball until now you have all given me something that’s made me better both as a player and person, thank you for investing your time in me.
I look forward to finishing the season as strongly as possible as we push towards the Championship play-offs, it would be nice to go out on a high with Orange County Soccer Club. As one door closes another opens and the plan is that the boots will stay on, but the kit will be changed for a track suit where ever that maybe.
My goal as a coach will be simple, be the best I possibly can be, hopefully I can have an impact on players the same way my coaches did with me, as I now look to make another dream a reality. So for one last time, thank you for being part of my journey. It meant everything.