Achilles injury forces Jonathan Walters to retire at 35

Wed, Mar 27 2019

Walters wearing his wounds following a 2016 friendly win over Oman, Robbie Keane's last game in green. Credit: Michael P Ryan (ETPhotos)

54-times-capped Republic of Ireland international Jonathan Walters has been forced to retire from professional football due to a persistent achilles injury.

The 35-year-old has called a premature halt to his career after failing to recover from a partially-ruptured achilles sustained while on loan with Ipswich Town.

Walters had left Premier League Burnley in search of first-team football after knee injuries had dogged his first 12 months at Turf Moor, but made just three loan appearances before his injury.

Merseyside-born Walters, who qualified for Ireland through his mother from Dublin, scored 14 goals for his country, including five in the successful qualifying campaign for Euro 2016.

He scored both goals in the second-leg victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina that sealed qualification and was named senior international player of the year, but injury restricted him to just one start in the finals.

“Isn’t it ironic...my Achilles heel has literally been my Achilles heel and finished me off,” Walters announced in a short statement on social media.”

He signed off with a quote attributed to Julius Caesar – veni, vidi, vici – which loosely translates from Latin to ‘I came, I saw, I conquered.’

“I am now retired from playing football. It’s been epic. Veni vidi vici.”

Walters was a regular international at underage level for Ireland after rejecting advances from England, and played for an Ireland B team in 2007, but had to wait until 2010 for his first full cap.

He was 27 when he was introduced for his first cap against Norway in November of that year, and he scored his first goal in the Euro 2012 play-off victory over Estonia at the end of that campaign.

Walters took a circuitous route to the top level after unsuccessful spells as a youth with Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers.

He made his name with then-League Two side Chester City after spells with Hull City and Wrexham, impressing enough to earn a move to Ipswich Town in 2007.

At Portman Road he worked under the future Republic of Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane, but it was at Stoke City where he’ll be best-remembered for a seven-year stint in the Premier League.

Tributes to Walters were led by President Michael D Higgins, who complimented Walters on a distinguished career on Twitter.

He wrote: “I want to thank Jonathan Walters @JonWalters19 for his marvellous service representing Ireland and for his contributions to the beautiful game. I wish him every success in the future.”