Former Northampton Town goalkeeper Paul Walker retires from playing at AFC Sudbury as horror injury at Stamford AFC sees him turn to coaching
Popular AFC Sudbury goalkeeper Paul Walker – who signed a three-year contract last May – has retired from playing a month shy of his 29th birthday – and taken up a coaching role in Mark Morsley's management team.
It comes six months on from sustaining a heavy blow to the face coming for a corner in an FA Cup match at Stamford AFC which resulted in having to undergo facial reconstruction surgery.
While recovering, the player who began his career with Northampton Town, making one Football League appearance for the Cobblers in April 2011 and playing more than 100 times for then Conference North outfit Corby Town, was left unable to work in his football coach job at Dellar Sports Coaching.
The former Wales Under-17 capped keeper went on to remain involved at the club by stepping in to coach the club's goalkeepers as he looked to build towards his return between the posts.
But having just launched his own sideline goalkeeper coaching business, he has decided to call time on his own playing career and has accepted the permanent role as AFC Sudbury's gk coach.
Walker's standout performances since signing from a brief spell with local side Haverhill Borough in 2017, saw him win Sudbury's supporters' and players' player of the year awards in each of his three seasons previous to the latest curtailed campaign.
Manager Mark Morsley admitted it will be a big loss not to have him in the number one shirt anymore but is delighted to still have his influence at the club.
"He is the best keeper I have worked with and I have worked with some really good keepers such as Nathan Munson and Danny Gay.
"It is a huge loss as a player. All the credit and praise he has had over the years he fully deserves.
"He has got a young family and is starting a new career with his coaching and I think that the injury, which was horrific as he had to have his face reconstructed, played a part because of the fact he was unable to work for a period of time.
"I am sure it was a watershed moment for him, but he likes the football club and he is very popular here.
"He did some goalkeeper coaching at the end of last season and I have to say his input to the management team was very impressive."
Morsley had also tied up new contracts for head coach Tony Kinsella and first-team coach Liam Aves.
* See Thursday's Suffolk Free Press print edition for full details and further developments at the club.
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