Roy Carroll: I am leaving Linfield but will play on at 41
Former Northern Ireland hero Roy Carroll is leaving Linfield but the 41-year-old has revealed he intends to carry on playing.
Carroll, currently recovering from a serious knee injury, was offered the chance to work with the Blues in pre-season though with his existing deal coming to an end and no new contract on the table the ex-Manchester United star and the Blues have now parted company
The Fermanagh man joined Linfield in the summer of 2016 and became an inspirational figure for David Healy's side over the last three years in which they have won two Irish Premiership titles, the Irish Cup, League Cup and County Antrim Shield.
Such has been his influence on making the Linfield defence the meanest around and quality in producing matchwinning saves, many believe Carroll is the best keeper to play in modern day Irish League football. And he insists he is not finished yet outlining his determination to continue an outstanding career later this year once he is fully fit from a cruciate ligament injury suffered playing against Crusaders in January.
Carroll said: "After signing for Linfield in 2016 I'm now moving on. While the club offered me the chance to come in for pre-season training I wasn't offered a new contract and feel at this stage of my career, without a new contract, it is best to move forward.
"My plan is to continue playing. I don't want to retire at this moment and believe when I return from my injury I will still have lots to offer, both in terms of experience and ability. I'm confident that I can come back stronger."
A firm favourite with the Linfield fans, Carroll created history when he won the title in his first season with the Blues becoming the first player to be crowned a league champion in England (Manchester United), Greece (Olympiakos) and Northern Ireland.
He thanked boss Healy, his team-mates and the Linfield fans, declaring that he will look back fondly on his time at the club. He is the oldest keeper in the Irish League but not the oldest player with Coleraine's Stephen Douglas a month older.
“I enjoyed my time at Linfield,” said Carroll, who won 45 caps for his country and was part of Michael O’Neill’s Euro 2016 finals squad.
Carroll added: “In the three years I was at the club I was proud to be part of the team that won two league titles, the Irish Cup, the League Cup and County Antrim Shield.
“On and off the pitch, I always gave my all to the Blues.
“I want to thank the manager David Healy, the coaching staff, all my team-mates and the fans who were very good to me.
“I will look back on my time at Windsor Park with fondness.”
Given that a fit Carroll is viewed as the best goalkeeper in Irish League football, it will be fascinating to see which clubs approach him. He also has big plans off the pitch, outlining an ambition to use his experience and knowledge to coach young players in goalkeeping schools in Northern Ireland.
He stated: “I’m now a free agent, and as well as relishing playing for a new club in the future, I’m excited to be looking into starting goalkeeping schools around Northern Ireland, helping talented young goalkeepers across the country to learn and enjoy the position and also fulfil their potential.”
• EA Sports Cup holders Derry City will host Waterford in the semi-finals. Premier Division league leaders Dundalk are at home to Bohemians in the other last four tie.
Both semi-final games are scheduled for Monday, August 5.