Ryan Mason
Ryan Mason scored two goals in 20 appearances for Hull after joining from Tottenham in 2016 Stephen Pond/Getty Images


  • Hull City midfielder Mason announced his retirement on Tuesday [13 February] following medical advice.
  • The 26-year-old suffered a life-threatening head injury during a Premier League defeat to Chelsea in January 2017.
  • IBTimes UK looks at five other players also forced to step away from the professional game earlier than planned.

Ryan Mason announced his retirement from professional football at the age of just 26 on Tuesday (13 February), 13 months after a sickening clash of heads with Chelsea defender Gary Cahill left the Hull City midfielder with a fractured skull and in need of emergency surgery.

Despite initially being hopeful over a return to the sport and having "worked tirelessly" in order to make that a reality, the highly-regarded Tottenham Hotspur academy graduate and one-cap England international was forced to admit defeat after renowned neurosurgeons and neurologists advised him against playing again at a competitive level.

Following Mason's announcement, IBTimes UK looks at five other players that have been forced to follow in the footsteps of the likes of football luminaries Justin Fontaine and Marco van Basten over recent years and retire due to injury and other serious health-related issues.

Dean Ashton

After fruitful spells with Crewe Alexandra and Norwich City, striker Ashton joined West Ham United for a reported £7.25m ($10m) fee, according to the BBC, in January 2006 and helped the club reach the FA Cup final in addition to establishing himself as a potential option for England.

However, a broken left ankle suffered in training before a 4-0 friendly win over Greece later than summer - Steve McClaren's first match in charge of the national team - blighted the remainder of his professional career and, though he returned to score 13 goals in 40 games for the Hammers and did eventually win one international cap against Trinidad and Tobago, it forced his retirement in December 2009. Like Mason, he was also just 26.

Ledley King

One-club man King spent 13 years in Tottenham's senior team, racked up 323 appearances and captained the club to League Cup success in 2008, but was persistently hampered by a chronic knee problem that stopped him receiving the full recognition that his talent certainly merited and limited him to only 21 outings and two major tournaments for England.

The centre-back, handed the skipper's armband at Spurs at the tender age of 23, was 31 when he finally succumbed to that injury in July 2012, having been essentially unable to train between increasingly fleeting outings under Harry Redknapp. Since hanging up his boots he has continued to work for Tottenham as a club ambassador.

Ledley King
Ledley King (L) lifted only one major trophy during his 13-year senior career - the 2008 League Cup GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images

Fabrice Muamba

Muamba's life changed forever during one televised and eventually abandoned FA Cup quarter-final contest at White Hart Lane on 17 March 2012. Playing for Bolton Wanderers against Tottenham, he collapsed and suffered a cardiac arrest during the first half and, in the words of club doctor Jonathan Tobin, was "in effect dead" for 78 minutes before thankfully being revived in hospital.

The former Arsenal and Birmingham City midfielder also harboured ambitions of resuming his playing career, but five months later signalled his retirement on the medical advice he received while in Belgium for a minor heart operation.

Muamba has since completed his Uefa A license, gained a BA Honours degree in sport journalism and launched a campaign to install more defibrillators in public places.

Stuart Holden

Another Bolton midfielder sadly unable to reach his full potential on the pitch, Holden, left with a badly fractured eye socket after an unprovoked city-centre attack in Newcastle that came during his previous stint as a Sunderland player, sustained a broken right fibula before the 2010 World Cup while on duty with the United States.

That was really the beginning of an injury-ravaged few years for the Scottish-born Texan, who later required two procedures on a nasty knee issue suffered against Manchester United in 2011 and tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the 2013 Concacaf Gold Cup final win over Panama.

He experienced a repeat of that latter setback on Under-21 duty for Bolton in 2014 and finally "stopped fighting his body" in February 2016. Now 32, Holden works as an analyst for Fox Sports and, along with NBA legend Steve Nash, is a shareholder in Spanish third-tier outfit RCD Mallorca.

Sebastian Deisler
Bayern Munich's Sebastian Deisler announced his retirement in 2007 Sandra Behne/Bongarts/Getty Images

Sebastian Deisler

One of the most undeniably gifted German footballers of his generation, midfielder Deisler, earmarked as a real star of the future after bursting onto the scene with Borussia Monchengladbach in the late 1990s, underwent five knee surgeries throughout his career and was forced to miss both the 2002 and 2006 World Cups.

He joined Bayern Munich from Hertha Berlin at the end of the 2001-02 campaign, yet managed just 62 Bundesliga appearances over four seasons and also struggled with depression.

"I no longer have any real faith in my knee. It's been an ordeal," Deisler said after retiring in 2007, aged 27. "I can no longer play with the right level of enjoyment and I don't do anything by halves."