In tough times the Wolves family shows its strength, and the love Carl Ikeme has received over the past 12 months has left the goalkeeper filled with emotion for ‘his club’.
The 32-year-old confirmed his retirement from football on Friday after a year-long battle with acute leukemia but is now looking towards the future with excitement both personally and at Molineux.
Throughout his battle, Carl has received the love and backing from Wolves supporters through messages and fundraising events, and struggled to put into words the impact it made on him.
“It’s moving because you never realise people like you,” he explained to wolves.co.uk. “When you’re playing you’re just in the mode of playing game after game, but when you’re in these circumstances you realise how people feel about you.
“The support has been incredible, everyday someone has asked me how I am for a whole year. It’s incredible to think people actually care so much that they’ll do fundraisers in my name.”
Now in remission, Carl on Friday made the tough decision to officially retire from football on medical advice but now has peace of mind that he can plan to the future and spend vital time with his young family.
“I spoke with the doctor and he suggested I should retire, because of the toll the treatment has taken on my body. He thinks it’s what is best for me and I can’t really risk trying to come back, my health is the priority.
“I want to be here for my children, family and friends. In the grand scheme of things with my life in danger, it’s the minimum price I have to pay to spend the rest of my time with my family.”
Nevertheless, it was a decision Carl was never going to take lightly, after joining the club’s academy as a youngster and going on to make more than 200 appearances in a Wolves shirt.
“It’s not really set in since speaking to the doctor. In time I can have a good look back, it’s been incredible for me personally to have been at Wolves from 14 to 31 – playing for just one club is something I’m proud of.
“It’s nice to have been a one club man because it’s rare these days. I’m proud that I can always come back to Wolverhampton and always have friends here, and be loved, it’s incredible.”
The longevity of his spell speaks volumes for Carl’s affection for the football club. He now plans to remain involved with Wolves in some capacity and return to watching the team play as a supporter.
“This is my club. It’s been strange because this year I’ve enjoyed being a fan, watching the games. I’d be getting a bit heated on my own in my hospital room when nobody was about.
“When I’m doing radio commentary it’s no different, I try to be professional but it spills out. This is my club and it always will be, now I’m not playing, I’m a fan and I’m looking forward to it.
“I’ll be coming to enjoy the games with the fans who’ve supported me in my whole career, through the hardest moments.”
For now, Carl will rightly enjoy some much-needed family time and reflect on what has been a fine career as Wolves’ goalkeeper – but this isn’t the end of his Molineux journey.
“It’s sad when you look back and think of the sacrifices you’ve made to be a footballer but I’m happy with what I achieved. If you’d have said I could have had this career at 11 I would have snapped your hands off.
“I’ve still got friends in the academy and people working at Wolves who’ve helped me. I can’t thank Jeff, Kev and Laurie enough for how good they’ve been with me since the treatment.
“Now I’m going to enjoy being around the club, experiencing the good and bad times, but I’ll definitely be in and around the club,” he said.