Defender Tommy Spurr is recovering at home after a successful hip replacement surgery since announcing his retirement from professional football on Monday evening.
Spurr, who joined Deepdale in the summer of 2016, was left frustrated on the sidelines for the majority of the 2018/19 season due to an ongoing hip injury which eventually forced him to call time on his playing days.
The 31-year-old made almost 400 appearances in total, with 24 of those coming in a North End shirt.
Speaking of his time in Preston, Spurr said: “Once I heard Preston were interested, I jumped at the chance. Obviously it didn’t go as well as I’d have liked for various different reasons, but I loved my time at Preston and the people there are brilliant.
"I’ve got nothing but good memories and good words to say about everyone there.”
The defender was still contracted to the club when he suffered his hip injury, but was out on loan at Fleetwood Town at the time.
“When I first got injured in the game when I was on loan at Fleetwood, I originally just thought I’d pulled my groin, but then it turned out I had a tear on my cartilage from the tackle that I’d been in. They couldn’t really repair it, so I got a new hip!
“[The operation] went as well as a hip replacement can go. There were no problems and I managed to come out in two days rather than three. They were quite happy with how I was moving and with my pain level, so it was just nice to get home knowing that it’s done and I can look forward to getting back fit in a way that means I’m not going to be in pain every day.”
The physical effects of the injury are obvious, but mentally having to end a career at 31 inevitably took its mental toll, and Spurr is grateful for the support he’s had from all those around him.
“Football is all I’ve ever known so to have that taken away from me is quite difficult to deal with, but I’ve had a lot of support from my family.
"I had a little boy a couple of months after I got injured which refocused everything after that initial period of being quite down and struggling to deal with it. I came through it and realised there’s more important things in life than playing football.
“I’ve probably been a bit miserable at times but my wife has managed to get me through it, along with my mum, dad and sister. Family has always been important to me, so it’s good that I’ve got those around me to keep me going and to encourage me to be able to do something else and be good at that as well.”
Spurr started his career with Sheffield Wednesday, progressing through the club’s academy before going on to make an impressive 209 appearances for the Yorkshire side.
The defender said: “You fall in love with a club when you come through and I’ve ended up supporting Sheffield Wednesday. I was lucky enough to play 200 odd games for them and enjoyed every minute of it. I won a couple of Sheffield derbies as well which was nice.
“There did come a time, though, when I eventually left as I needed to have a new start and to kick my career on again because I think I’d become a bit stale there and needed a fresh challenge to give me a bit of a boost.”
The defender moved 20 miles along to Doncaster where he played 73 games, before making the move to Lancashire, first to Blackburn Rovers and then to North End.
Spurr is still figuring out what he wants to do next, but has several different avenues which he could go on to pursue.
“Luckily I’d planned ahead a little bit and I’ve nearly finished my sports science degree. I’ve started my UEFA B coaching course in the last few weeks, and done bits with the community, and done some coaching down at Preston and Blackburn.
"It’s about keeping your options open, sometimes you don’t have a choice and you’ve got to start right at the bottom to work your way back up, which is something I’m willing to do.
“The lads in the academy at Preston have already been in touch with me knowing that I’m doing my coaching badges, and said “if you want to do some hours to pass your course, you’re more than welcome”. They’ll help me as much as they can which I really appreciate because they’ve always been good with the younger lads that came up and trained with the first team.”
Watch the full interview on iFollow PNE by clicking on the video above.