After six decades in professional football Alan Hodgkinson has finally decided to hang up his gloves.
The legendary goalkeeping coach has announced his retirement, aged 76.
It brings an end to a remarkable career, which included playing and coaching at the highest level.
Hodgkinson, who joined Oxford United in 2005, admitted it was a tough decision.
“It has been a long journey, but every journey has to end somewhere and the time is right for me to call it a day in football,” he said.
“I have a heavy heart, but after 60 seasons I think I have done my share in football.”
Hodgkinson’s entire playing career was spent at Sheffield United, beginning in 1953.
He went on to make 675 appearances in 17 seasons, the majority of which were spent in the top flight.
Despite being small for a goalkeeper, he earned five caps for England and was included in the squads for the 1958 and 1962 World Cups.
Hodgkinson’s coaching car-eer included spells at Glasgow Rangers, Everton, Scotland and Manchester United, where he is credited with bringing Peter Schmeichel to English football.
Despite working at some huge clubs, he reserved special praise for the U’s.
He said: “I have loved my time at Oxford. “I was lucky enough to work at national level and with clubs like Manchester United and Rangers, but the support that Oxford get is magnificent and the
club means the world to me. “I have made so many friends among the staff and the supporters and I wish them the very best of luck in getting up into the next division.”
His long service to the game was recognised in the 2008 New Year’s Honours List, when he was awarded an MBE.
United boss Chris Wilder said it had been a privilege to work with Hodgkinson: “Alan has such knowledge and such a passion for the game and
has been a fantastic servant to Oxford United, Sheffield United and the game of football.”
Hodgkinson will be the U’s guest of honour against Exeter City next Saturday.
Wayne Brown has taken over as the club’s goalkeeping coach.