A FORMER Premier League star has spoken about his devastating early retirement from football at the age of 29.
Ex-Swansea star Alfie Mawson, who announced he was hanging up his boots last month, was once tipped for big things after impressive showings at centre-back.
The star impressed so much that he was linked with a move to Arsenal in his pomp – and received a surprise England call-up in 2018.
But Mawson's world came crashing down after persistent knee injuries left him seeking the advice of a specialist while playing for Wycombe earlier this season.
He recalled the moment when "the room went black" as he was told of how serious his knee issue was.
Speaking on Ben Foster's popular podcast, Mawson said: "So I was like 'can we do anything [about my knee]?'
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"[The doctor replied] I owe it to you to tell you not that I think you should retire, but you have to retire.
"I just looked at my agent and his head just sank, bless him, and I was like 'okay … what?'
"I had a feeling it was coming but to hear it, it was still strange."
The specialist made clear to Mawson that the consequences would be severe if he played even a few more matches for Wycombe.
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The defender added: "He said 'going forward you could maybe fight on and play three or four games, but you wouldn't walk properly after.'
"And then he hit me with the worst thing I heard. I asked him if I could keep fit because I cycle a lot.
"He said 'cycle all you want, but just never run again. When you leave the room, don't ever run again.
"I was like 'you're having me on, ain't you?' But that was like a month ago, we've made the decision [to retire] and I've had free time ever since."
Mawson came through Reading and Brentford's youth ranks and spent several years out on loan from the Bees before a permanent move to Barnsley in 2015.
He would spend only a season at Oakwell before going to Premier League Swansea where he established himself as a top-flight defender.
The 29-year-old's time in Wales was so impressive that even after the club were relegated, he secured a £20m move to Fulham who had just been promoted in 2018.
His persistent issue with his lateral meniscus would limit his appearances before he moved to Wycombe in 2022.
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