KONCH CALLS TIME ON HIS LEAGUE CA­REER

The Football League Paper - - TFLP - By Matt Bad­cock

PAUL KONCHESKY says re­tir­ing from pro­fes­sional foot­ball has left him feel­ing emo­tional – but NonLeague Bil­ler­icay Town can keep the fire burn­ing.

The 35-year-old has played 29 times for League One Gilling­ham this sea­son, but found him­self out of the team fol­low­ing the ar­rival of new man­ager Ady Pen­nock.

Re­tire­ment was al­ways on the cards for this sum­mer, but the for­mer Charl­ton, West Ham, Ful­ham, Liver­pool and Le­ices­ter player won’t be pack­ing it in al­to­gether. He’s signed a deal with am­bi­tious Ry­man Pre­mier side Bil­ler­icay Town, who were re­cently taken over by millionaire Glenn Tam­plin.

“I’ve played pro­fes­sional foot­ball for 20 years and trained ev­ery day,” Konch- esky said. “To stop sud­denly is go­ing to af­fect me. I’ve had an un­be­liev­able ca­reer. The more I think about it the more mem­o­ries come back. “How can I put it? Is it up­set­ting? No. I don’t think that’s the word. Emo­tional? Of course. To­day is my last day of pro­fes­sional foot­ball. “Do I love foot­ball? Of course. Can I just stop? No, that’s why I’m here. If I re­tire from pro­fes­sional foot­ball, what do I do? I can’t just sit at home when an owner invites me to be part of some­thing. It’s a big chal­lenge but it’s some­thing I want to do.”

Konchesky’s ca­reer took him to an FA Cup fi­nal with West Ham, an in­cred­i­ble run to the Europa League fi­nal with Ful­ham, and he played for Eng­land twice against Aus­tralia and Ar­gentina. He also helped Le­ices­ter City to the Cham­pi­onship ti­tle in 2013-14.

In­cred­i­ble

Owner of a pie and mash shop, Konch’s Kafe, in Brent­wood, he will look to do his coach­ing badges now he’s play­ing part-time.

But, when match­day comes, it will be as se­ri­ous as ever and he’s not fazed by the four-league drop.

“I played here in pre-sea­son, but the sun was shin­ing and it was a bit dif­fer­ent!” he smiled. “Lis­ten, it’s four lines, a foot­ball pitch with two goals. I know what peo­ple are get­ting at, but I’ve not got a mas­sive ego. I want to play foot­ball and I’ve been given a great op­por­tu­nity.

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for me. It’s go­ing to be tough, it’s go­ing to be dif­fer­ent but it’s some­thing I look for­ward to.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages & Gareth Everett

MOV­ING ON: Paul Konchesky at Gilling­ham and, in­set, at his new club

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