Hull midfielder Ryan Mason has been forced to retire from football, over a year after he fractured his skull in a Premier League match against Chelsea.
The 26-year-old collided with Chelsea centre-back Gary Cahill at Stamford Bridge on January 22, 2017. He had to have emergency surgery and spent eight days at St Mary’s hospital before being released.
Mason explained in a statement on Tuesday that the decision was taken on medical grounds.
‘I can confirm that following specialist medical advice I am having to retire from playing professional football,’ Mason said. ‘I have worked tirelessly in order to be able to return to the pitch.
‘Unfortunately, having taken expert medical advice I now have no option but to retire due to the risks involved given the nature of my injury.
‘I am and always will be eternally grateful for the incredible network of people around me who have helped me to recover from what was a life-threatening injury in January 2017.
‘Thank you to my amazing fiance, Rachel, who has been by my side and lived every single day with me since the injury, helping to give me the strength I’ve needed no matter how tough things got. We are so lucky to have now become the proud parents of our perfect baby boy George.
‘To my Mum, Dad, sisters, and all of my family and close friends, thank you for everything. Despite how tough it’s been and the challenges I’ve faced along the way you’ve all been there supporting me and words will never truly do justice to how grateful I am for your love and support.
‘I would like to thank everyone at Hull City, especially The Doc Mark Waller and all of the medical team for helping me to recover. Thank you to the chairman and the board for being so patient with my recovery and sticking by me.
‘There are too many names to mention when it comes to talking about Tottenham Hotspur but I would like to say a special thank you to John McDermott, the Gaffer and everybody at Spurs for helping me to achieve my dreams.
‘I am so proud to have come through the ranks to play for my club, the club I love. To have had the honour of captaining the team fills me with immense pride. Thank you to all of my teammates over the years, there are too many to mention, it’s been a privilege to play alongside you all.
‘Finally, representing my country is an honour that nobody can ever take away from me and something that I am so proud to have achieved.
‘I’m retiring from the game with my head held high having done everything in my power over these past 13 months to have given myself every opportunity to return to the pitch.
‘I feel content knowing that I dedicated my life to be able to play football at the highest level, hard work really does pay off!
‘I love the game, I always will and I am excited to see where football will take me next.’
Hull released a statement of their own, saying: ‘It is with deep regret that the club has to announce that, following the head injury suffered on 22nd January 2017, Ryan Mason is to retire from football with immediate effect.
‘Ryan has sought the guidance of numerous world renowned neurologists and neuro surgeons who have all advised that a return to competitive football is not advised.
‘Ryan would like to put on record his thanks to all at the club who have aided his recovery to this point and he is indebted to them for their support and compassion over the past 12 months.’
Mason planned to return to first-team action early in 2018. He explained in October last year that he was waiting for his skull to heal further before he could properly plan his return.
‘Physically I’m completely fine,’ he said in appearance on Sky Sports’ The Debate. ‘But my skull still needs to do a little bit of healing. It’s not fully fused together yet.
‘But when that day comes hopefully I’m in the physical condition to go straight back in.
‘Mentally I’m in a positive place. I’ve had three to four months to fully focus on my body and make myself a better player for when I do come back.
‘Right now I’m just waiting. It’s a bit of patience and the club have been great, the chairman’s been good. They are fully backing me and hopefully once it’s fused together fine there won’t be any problems.’
Mason gave his first interview following the accident to Sportsmail in May last year.
‘It was like a bomb going off in my head,’ Mason said. ‘He said there was a moment shortly after I arrived at the hospital, I think maybe just after I’d had a CT scan, that I was what they call ‘unresponsive’.
‘They acted very quickly and within minutes I was in surgery. But that was a life-threatening situation and it was a shock to hear that.
‘The doc, to be fair to him, had waited for the right moment to talk me through the accident and the operation. Any earlier and I don’t think I would have had the capacity to deal with it.’
In an Instagram post on New Year’s Eve, Mason reflected on the incident and shared a picture of the scar on the side of his head after surgery.
‘It’s hard to put into words the year I have had,’ Mason wrote. ‘It’s been a physical and mental challenge that I am proud to have overcome, and to end the year holding my son in my arms is a special feeling. Coming back stronger!’
Mason made one England appearance in his career, coming on as a substitute in the 1-1 draw with Italy in Turin in 2015.
He joined Hull for a club-record £10m transfer in 2016 from Tottenham, where he had emerged from the club’s academy.
He made his debut for his boyhood club in 2008, making 70 appearances overall and scoring four goals. Mason captained Tottenham in a Europa League match against Fiorentina in the Europa League in February 2016.Tottenham released a video showing Mason’s highlights at the club shortly after he made his announcement, referring to him as ‘One of our own’.
Hull manager Nigel Adkins also took to Twitter to commend Mason.
‘Wishing Ryan Mason good luck for the future,’ Adkins wrote. ‘A top professional. Ryan gave an inspirational talk to the players this morning.’