Sadness has engulfed Mansfield Town after their academy physio, Matt Salmon, was told he had only “weeks to live”.
The 25-year-old Salmon, who was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2010, announced his retirement after receiving the news from doctors in a consultation.
He said: “It has been an incredibly difficult decision to resign from my dream job but, unfortunately, I have reached a stage where I am not able to give our players the level of care they deserve.”
Tributes to Salmon, who joined the Stags in January 2014, were led by club chairman John Radford and manager Steve Evans.
Radford said: “I learned this news with a heavy heart. Matt has always conducted himself with the utmost integrity and professionalism, and has been a total credit to our football club. Both he and his family should be extremely proud of his work.
“Matt is part of a tight-knit family at the club and we are united behind him at this difficult time. He has fought this illness with incredible spirit. We will miss him.”
Evans said: “Matt has been as good as any medical professional that I could wish to work with. When the news was broken to me, tears were shed. Matt and his immediate family will get the kindest support we can offer.”
Salmon, who worked with Stags’ first team for a spell during the 2014/15 season, has led the youth set-up’s medical department since the academy moved to Brooksby Melton College in Leicestershire two years ago. Described as “an integral part” of the academy, he never missed a match during his illness, even though, on occasions, he was clearly suffering.
He added: “I have immensely enjoyed every single moment. I have worked alongside some incredibly talented medical staff, coaches and managers. I would like to thank all the staff at Brooksby, particularly academy manager John Dempster and co-youth director Mark Hawkins. Their help, guidance and encouragement have been a massive comfort and made the past few months much more tolerable.
“I would also like to thank Steve Evans and John and Carolyn Radford for their kind messages. The fact that people who have achieved so much in the game offer their time and support shows what sort of club Mansfield Town is and mirrors the principles that the town was built on.”
Dempster said the circumstances behind Matt’s retirement had hit everyone at the academy hard. “He has been a key figure, and his professionalism and high standards have rubbed off on us all,” he said. “He will be irreplaceable as a colleague and a friend.”