Francis forced to retire
Michael Bailey Former Norwich City midfielder Damien Francis has been forced to retire from professional football after failing to recover from a serious knee injury.
Former Norwich City midfielder Damien Francis has been forced to retire from professional football after failing to recover from a serious knee injury.
His last club, Watford, made the announcement yesterday after the 29-year-old took medical advice that he should not continue in the game.
A Watford statement read: “It is with great sadness that Watford Football Club today announce the retirement of midfielder Damien Francis from the game.
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“Francis makes the tough decision on strong medical advice at the age of 29, following a series of setbacks in his fight to regain complete fitness following a serious knee injury encountered in the 1-1 draw with Manchester City in April 2007.”
Speaking to the Hornet's official club website, Francis said: “I'm devastated to have to accept the decision to announce my retirement, but I have been strongly advised by my surgeon that I cannot continue to put my knee through such trauma.
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“I can't thank Watford enough for their support, the medical staff especially have bent over backwards to help me to try and return to fitness, I truly appreciate all of their efforts.
“I want to thank the manager, players and the whole club too. I would also like to thank all the fans from my Wimbledon, Norwich and Wigan days for their support, and a special thanks to the Watford fans for their patience.”
Francis made 78 appearances as a Canary after being signed from Wimbledon by Nigel Worthington in the summer of 2003, scoring 14 goals and winning a Division One championship medal at Carrow Road before abandoning ship after the Canaries relegation from the Premiership in 2005, and moved to Wigan Athletic.
Francis has been best known for his goal scoring exploits from the middle of the park, having netted 39 career goals in 276 appearances and joined the Hornets for a fee of £1.5m in July 2006, featuring throughout the side's Premiership season.
He scored six goals before falling victim to an anterior cruciate ligament injury and following a long period of rehabilitation, Francis' first aborted comeback in November 2007 led to him soon being forced back to the treatment room.
He remained there until this season where he again found his attempts to return to complete fitness scuppered. His final appearance came in the 2-1 win over Ipswich Town at the end of August.
Francis made 44 career starts and 13 substitute appearances for Watford, with a total of nine goals to his name. He also scored Watford's first Premiership goal of the 2006/07 season at Everton.