STUART Jones can't believe that his Accrington Stanley career is over before it has hardly begun.
The goalkeeper had played in two Conference games, got two Man of the Matches, helped the Reds to two wins but has been forced to retire with an ankle injury.
"I am still limping now," admitted Jones 10 days after his last game against Altrincham.
"It is gutting and I am pig sick but I did know this could happen."
The 27-year-old experienced goalie had been troubled with an ankle injury for a number of years.
"I first did it on a cattle grid at my mum's years ago," said the shot-stopper.
"It was always weaker after that but then I was playing for Doncaster against Oldham in January and an Oldham player stood on my foot. My whole body moved apart from my foot.
"I had an operation and the specialist had warned me that my career could be cut short by it and that it would be very sore after I played but I still thought I had at least another 12-18 months.
"I kept trying to make unsuccessful comebacks at Doncaster so I had hardly played towards the back end of last season. I was released from Doncaster but decided to give it a good pre-season.
"I played one and a half games for Accrington pain free and I felt things were going well. Then I went for a ball in the Wigan game. I felt it and knew it could trouble me again.
"I played against Canvey Island and Altrincham but couldn't walk for days afterwards and was in agony.
"Towards then end of the Altrincham game, my ankle was killing me and I felt slugglish and it restricted my speed and reactions. I knew if I carried on I could have cost Accrington points.
"I was in too much pain and I knew I wouldn't be able to play against Cambridge last Saturday. It was going all the way up to my calf and I am still limping weeks afterwards."
It was on the Wednesday following the Altrincham game that he went to see Stanley manager John Coleman.
"I told him I couldn't go on. It wasn't fair to the club as I knew I wouldn't be able to play regularly. I would be cheating myself and the club and I think they were glad they had signed me on a non contract basis.
"John (Coleman) was surprised but obviously accepted my decision. He told me he seems to be jinxed with keepers.
"It wasn't easy. I had just played in two matches, won both of them, kept two clean sheets and enjoyed it all.
"It is really sad but I couldn't hop around on one leg in goal and struggle with kicking and let the team down."
Jones is going back to see the specialist who performed the original operation to see if there is any hope.
"It is a very scarey time for me as I have a young family here in Bristol but it was necessary.
"I am just going to see what he has to say."
Jones does have a trade behind him but still harbours hopes that he might return to football at some stage - although at the moment, he can't see it.
"It is just agony. All I ever wanted to do was play football so for this to happen has been really hard. I was hoping I would have longer with Accrington but the injury has got to me.
"But I will be back for the promotion party in May because, as I played two games, I think I deserve an invite!"