Preston North End have sadly confirmed that Declan Rudd has had to retire from football due to a knee injury.
The 31-year-old, who has made 196 appearances over three separate stints with PNE, has undergone several operations on his knee during the last 18 months in an attempt to enable him to return to playing regular football.
Despite the surgeries and rehabilitation, it became clear that Dec would be unable to continue his career and he was forced to make the difficult decision to retire.
PNE supporters will get the opportunity to thank the goalkeeper for his service to the club on Tuesday evening as he and his family will be in attendance for the home game against Blackpool where he will be presented on to the pitch.
Dec said: “I’ve known for a while now so I’ve had a bit of time to let it sink in, but I wouldn’t say I’ve quite come to terms with it.
“It’s a big thing that was always a possibility but one I hoped wouldn’t happen. Everybody wants to finish on their terms and I thought that I still had my best playing days to come, but unfortunately it’s stopped too early.
“The worst thing is I haven’t had the chance to say bye to the players, the staff or the fans yet, so it’ll be nice to get back to Deepdale.
“The last time I played at Deepdale was for the Liverpool game in a full house, so it’s not a bad game to have as your last appearance, but it’ll be nice to go back there to thank everyone because they’ve all been brilliant with me, the fans especially.
“Everyone always stuck by me, so that’s why I wanted to come back five or six years ago, because it just felt like a club I belonged at.”
The Norfolk-born shot-stopper began his career as a young boy with Norwich City and came through the ranks at Carrow Road, eventually turning professional with the Canaries and he would go on to feature in the Premier League on 14 occasions.
His first spell at Deepdale came during the 2013/14 campaign on loan from Norwich and he returned the following term on a season-long loan.
After then returning south to play for his parent club, as well as spending a year with Charlton Athletic, Dec joined North End permanently in 2017, going on to establish himself as the No.1 at Deepdale.
Dec has also made a significant impact off the pitch over the years too by playing a key part in the community, being named as the club’s Community Player of the Year for the past two years.
Manager Ryan Lowe added: “I’m obviously gutted for him. First and foremost, goalkeepers can often go for forever and a day, so for Dec to have to retire at the age of 31 is obviously disappointing for him and disappointing for us.
“Secondly, I’m disappointed myself that I didn’t have the opportunity to work with him because I believe and I know that he was a fantastic lad to work with and a fantastic goalkeeper, representing Norwich and obviously Preston North End over the years.
“But the most important thing is his health. I said to him the most important thing is that you can still run around with your kids at home, that’s the main thing.
“He’ll be sadly missed in the football world and at Preston North End because he’s a good bloke as well as a quality goalkeeper.”