Former Chesterfield, Middlesbrough, Huddersfield Town, Northampton Town and Wrexham goalkeeper retires aged 26 due to serious knee injury

Former Chesterfield goalkeeper Luke Coddington has retired from football at the age of 26 due to a serious knee injury.

By Liam Norcliffe
Tuesday, 21st December 2021, 12:06 pm
Former Chesterfield goalkeeper Luke Coddington has been forced to retire due to injury.
Former Chesterfield goalkeeper Luke Coddington has been forced to retire due to injury.

The stopper completely ruptured his patella tendon two years ago in December 2019 when playing for the Spireites against Yeovil Town. He described the moment as feeling his knee ‘explode.’

Devastatingly, he then suffered a partial recurrence of the same injury when he was walking down some stairs at home.

In the end, after much deliberation, the ex-Middlesbrough youngster decided to hang up his gloves after his surgeon warned him that there was a ‘high risk’ of it happening again if he made a return to football and that it could impact his life later on.

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Coddington suffered the injury in December 2019.

Recalling how the injury happened, Coddington told the DT: “On the day it had been absolutely pouring down with rain and I think kick-off got delayed it was that bad.

"I just remember that I passed the ball out to Buchs (David Buchanan), he passed me it back, I took a touch with my right foot and the ball just slowed down a bit in the water, it was stuck under my feet a little bit so I had to sort of dig it out, then as I have planted my left foot to kick it I just felt my left knee explode and I was like ‘what was that.’ It wasn’t very painful but I looked down and my kneecap was in my thigh and that obviously freaked me out.

"I had the operation within a couple of days and I spoke to the surgeon and he has said it was going to be about nine or ten months best-case scenario but he did say he had seen these type of injuries go either way recovery-wise and time-wise and if I would be the same sort of footballer again.

"Retirement never crossed my mind at that point. It was just about getting fit.”

A few months passed and Coddington, who had previously been at Huddersfield Town, Northampton Town and Wrexham before joining the Blues in July 2019, was on the road to recovery.

However, he suffered a major setback around the middle of February 2020 just before the pandemic struck.

He explained: “I was going down the stairs at home, my right foot jerked forward about six inches and I just slipped off one of the steps and my back left leg overstretched behind me and I just heard a bit of a crunch. Straight away I thought ‘I don’t need this’.

"I had another scan and I had partially ruptured it again and I needed another operation. I had a metal wire put in my knee at the top of my patella and then down into my tibia going round my kneecap and then down past my tendon and into my tibia. That was only supposed to stay in for a maximum of six weeks but it ended up staying for four months because that was when Covid started. Obviously it was nobody’s fault, it was just the circumstances that we were in.”

Fast-forward to September when the 2020/2021 season has just got underway, Coddington, who had shown incredible mental strength throughout this time, was back on the training pitch. Although he was not at full tilt, he was doing some bits of shot-stopping.

He went for another scan around December time just to make sure everything was still fine after stepping up his rehab but the results were unexpected and eventually led to his retirement. He had been playing football since he was seven.

“I got the results back towards the end of January 2021,” he said. “The surgeon said the tendon fibres don’t look normal for what they should be right now. He sort of gave me a best-case and worst-case scenario, this is the situation you could find yourself in, this is what could happen if this happened, and put everything on the table.

"The way he put it was that he could not tell me what to do because he could not categorically say that I would never play football again, but he said that there is a high risk of this happening again and that it will impact my life basically. He gave me an option without giving me an option, but that made it easy for me. If he had said there is a 10 per cent chance that it might rupture again if you go back to football I would have said ‘maybe there is still a chance’ but he was talking like a 50 per cent chance that it will go again. So it was pretty much a no-brainer, to be honest.

"I went away to have a think about things. I obviously wanted to stay in football but I had to sort of weigh it up. If I got to 35-40-year-old and I could not run anymore or I could have pain in my knee constantly throughout my life. I was thinking if I put myself through this for another five years what is it going to be like? Is it going to go again? You have got to think that if you have a history of knee injuries and you are playing at the level that we are at, the risk outweighs the reward in some cases."

After speaking to family and friends over a few months, Coddington, who said he received great support from the PFA and from managers John Sheridan and John Pemberton during his difficult time, made the brave call to step away from the game he loves.

Thankfully, he is at peace with his decision because it was pretty much ‘out of his hands’ anyway.

"I weighed everything up and in the end I was comfortable with it to be honest,” he added.

*Read part two of our interview on Wednesday where Luke reveals what he is doing now and more about his time at the Spireites.