"I managed to play for the team I supported as a young boy. I feel like that's a really good achievement"
Former Town midfielder Luke Hyam has officially announced his retirement from professional football.
Speaking to the first edition of 'The Preview' - the Club's new matchday feature that will air at 12pm on iFollow Ipswich, Youtube and official social media accounts - the 29-year-old confirmed that he had been forced to hang up his boots due to a back injury.
Luke last featured in the professional game for Southend, running out 28 times for The Shrimpers across two seasons with the Essex outfit.
Prior to that, the Ipswich-born central midfielder had made 146 appearances for his hometown side having graduated from Blues' Academy.
Luke, whilst saddened by his enforced retirement, proudly looked back on his career in the game.
He said: "It's heartbreaking. Like I say, the decision was kind of taken out of my own hands. I picked up a back injury about a year and a half ago and it just deteriorated over time. It was at the back end of my first year at Southend. It's unfortunate but you can't dwell on the past, you've got to look into the future.
"You always think it's going to happen one day, that you're going to retire from football. Unfortunately for me, it's happened earlier than most. At the same time, I'm very privileged to not only play professional football but to play for my boyhood club. It was always a dream of mine from a young age so be able to fulfill that, I can't complain.
"Everyone is going to have regrets in life and, of course, I'd love to have been able to play football longer. I'd have loved to have played for Ipswich longer. You've got to look at the positives in life. I managed to play for the team I supported as a young boy, the team that all my friends and family still support now. I feel like that's a really good achievement."
Having experienced his own problems in the past, Luke now hopes to use his experience from inside the game and his personal life to help others.
He is in the process of completing a personal training course and also opened up about the importance of looking after both mental and physical health.
"If I can get into a better physical state and finish off my qualification, I'd love to do that in the near future," he continued. "I'd love to bring other people into it and help them get the benefits that I got from exercise.
"I've had mental health problems in the past, I'm a massive advocate of it. I'd want to help people who are struggling, especially with all of the uncertainty around at the moment. I'd like to just help as many people as possible.
"Like any player, if you're not playing football it's a dark place. When you have injuries on top of it, it is hard. You need to get people to talk about it and speak about it more. Opening up with people can make you feel better. I'd love to be able to raise people's awareness and say 'it's okay not to be ok.'
"Being a local lad, I just want to help people and raise awareness. I'd like to help with anything I can around the local community. Community is a massive part for me. I love the town and I have all of my friends and family here so I want to stay here forever."
Luke made his Town debut in August 2010 as Roy Keane's side began the campaign with a 3-1 victory at Middlesbrough. Coincidentally, his first goal came in a win by the same scoreline, against Nottingham Forest in November 2012.
Part of the side who reached the Championship play-offs in the 2014/15 campaign, he also enjoyed a brief loan spell away from Portman Road with Rotherham.
Everyone at Ipswich Town would like to congratulate Luke on his career and wish him all the best for the future.