ANDY Fleming has been forced to retire through injury the age of just 31.
The popular midfielder, who signed for the Shrimps in July 2010, suffered a major knee injury last year.
Fleming suffered a chondral defect to his left knee during the game against Macclesfield in September last year and although the midfielder returned in March last season, making an additional ten appearances before the end of the 2018/19 season with minimal issues, the pain has re-emerged during pre-season.
After an MRI scan this week, Fleming has made the tough decision to retire.
Shrimps’ boss, Jim Bentley, said he was devastated for the player who made more than 250 appearances for the club.
He said: “I’m absolutely devastated about the news of Andy unfortunately retiring from the professional game.
"Speaking with him when he came to his decision this week was one of the worst meetings I’ve ever had with a player.
"He’s the only outfield player still at the club since I played and we used to travel together to games and training every day. He’s a good friend of mine who I respect and think the world of as a person.
"He’s been a great servant to Morecambe Football Club and will go down in history as one of the best midfielders the club has had in the Football League. He was also the first player to score at the Globe Arena.
"He’s probably been one of the easiest players to manage as he just gets on with the job with no fuss and has always gained the respect from his team mates.
‘His attitude was always the same whether you were 4-0 up or 4-0 down, he just kept going and always gave his all no matter what and wanted to make the next tackle, win the next header or pass the next ball.
"He’s been a great character in the dressing and someone I will be friends with for forever. He was a great team mate and has been an absolute pleasure to manage.
"This is a sad day for Morecambe FC and even more so for Flemo himself, but I’m sure everyone wishes him well in whatever he does next in his life and wish him and his young family every success in the future.”