An open letter from Stuart Dallas

An open letter from Stuart Dallas

A letter to supporters.

Today, with a heavy heart, I announce that I will be retiring from professional football. Over the past two years, the Leeds United medical team, along with the incredible surgeons in London, have worked tirelessly to help me recover from the injury I sustained in the game against Manchester City in 2022.

Sadly, despite their best efforts, and my body not progressing how we need it to, I must now accept the fact that my knee suffered irreparable damage and I will not be returning to play professional football. 

I am of course devastated by this news.

As a young boy growing up in Cookstown, Northern Ireland, all I ever wanted was to play professional football and I will be eternally grateful that for me, that dream came true. This may not be how fairytales are supposed to end, but I must now deal with the fact that this chapter of my life is drawing to a close. 

I am incredibly grateful to so many people who have helped me over the years, not only to make the most of my career, but who enabled me to do so with a smile on my face.

My particular thanks must first and foremost go to my amazing wife Junéve, whose unwavering support has been ever present since the first day we met. We have three beautiful kids, who we have created so many memories with and I will be forever grateful. To my family and close friends who I’ve spent so much time discussing this with, you’ve lived and breathed every high and low with me. Thank you. 

To all my previous managers and coaches at my present and former clubs, thank you for being part of the journey. When I moved from Northern Ireland to England I couldn’t have asked for a better club to go to in Brentford, and I’ll be forever grateful to them.

I’ve been fortunate to work with some outstanding managers, but two in particular I want to pay special thanks to are Marcelo Bielsa and Michael O’Neill. Marcelo’s incredible coaching helped me improve not just as a player, but as a person off the pitch too. Premier League football seemed a million miles away at times, but he made this all possible. These were simply the greatest years of my career and I created memories that I’ll cherish forever. Michael believed in me and gave me the opportunity to represent my country on so many occasions, for which I will always be thankful.

Playing in front of the Green and White Army at Windsor Park, and also having the opportunity to do so in a major championship, at Euro 2016 was unforgettable. You really are amazing and it has been such an honour.

I would also like to pay tribute to the staff, management and medical team at Leeds United for their outstanding support during some dark days. I truly believe we have the greatest medical team around and special thanks must go to Rob Price, Henry McStay and Ruben Crespo who have worked around the clock to give me the best medical attention that I have needed.

To my team mates over the years, nationally and domestically, there are too many to mention but you know who you are, friends for life. A special mention must go to Liam Cooper, who I’ve been with since I first walked through the doors at Thorp Arch many years ago. An incredible captain, team mate, friend and player whose talent and contribution to the team often goes unrecognised. The man is truly a wonderful human.

My final thanks must go to you, the Leeds United fans. Your passion and love for this team and city is what makes Leeds so special. You really are the 12th man. As the famous anthem goes, “we’ve been through it all together and we’ve had our ups and downs”. I’ve been lucky enough to have shared your joy within the wonderful stadium that is Elland Road. Leeds United is now well and truly in my blood, I have memories that will remain with me forever and I look forward to joining you in the stands as Daniel Farke and the team aim to take us back to the Premier League and beyond.  

As sad as it is that my career as a player is over, I can look back with so many happy memories, representing the country that I love and a team that has made such an impact on my life. Leeds is a place I will call home forever.

Thank you