Popular Dane facing up to quitting game

POPULAR former Ipswich Town defender Thomas Gaardsoe has accepted he may be forced to quit playing football before he reaches his 27th birthday next month.

By Derek Davis

POPULAR former Ipswich Town defender Thomas Gaardsoe has accepted he may be forced to quit playing football before he reaches his 27th birthday next month.

The Dane, who has been battling stomach and groin problems for the past 18 months and has played just once this year, last night told the EADT he was facing up to the reality of early retirement.

Gaardsoe joined West Brom from Ipswich for a bargain £500,000 but will not be included in the squad that visits Portman Road on Saturday.

He said: “I would love to be able to play at Ipswich on Saturday but the truth is I may never play football again.

“I have been struggling with injury and even though I have had two operations this year I am not completely recovered. I can play up to about 70% of the level I need and the time is coming when a decision will be made.

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“That will probably be in the next few weeks and I could be out of the game by November, December at the latest.”

Gaardsoe has another 22 months left on his Baggies contract and is refusing to quit without a fight and is hoping he can make a miraculous recovery.

He said: “It is my hope that I can carry on playing. I love the game and want to play. I trained in pre-season but could never take the next step and I'm still trying to do that.”

The personable Dane is reluctantly looking at what his options are if he has to retire and one option would be media work for the multi-linguist but he has ruled out management.

Gaardsoe was married in the summer and the couple are planning to start a family. He said: “I'm not sure what direction I want to go in. I would want to take a break from working Saturdays, although I have looked at coaching.”

George Burley brought Gaardsoe to England in a £1.3m move after he was spotted playing for Aalborg and Denmark Under-21s.

He swiftly became a crowd favourite in central defence, and as a holding midfielder, and his sale to the Baggies, one game short of his 50th appearance, did not go down well with supporters.

Gaardsoe said: “I loved being at Ipswich and did not really want to go. It was a big move to come over from Denmark but the Ipswich people were so friendly and brilliant to me.

“The supporters helped me enormously and when I came back to play for West Brom at Portman Road they gave me a fantastic reception and I really appreciated that - I still do, which is why I'm a bit sad not to be coming on Saturday.”

Gaardsoe's move to the west Midlands proved a good one career-wise as he went on to play in the Premiership and won international honours, while at the Hawthorns

He made his senior debut in the Danes' 3-2 win over England and he scored in their 5-1 win in Poland.

Gaardsoe admitted he was amazed and delighted when Jim Magilton got the Town manager's job.

He said: “I was in Denmark when I heard the news and I just laughed at first. I remember Jim as a team-mate in the dressing room and he was great but I didn't see him then as a manger.

“I saw him on television at the weekend, working on television for the Northern Ireland/Denmark game, and he made me laugh again.

“But he has done well for Ipswich after a dodgy start and they are climbing the table again. I'm really pleased for him and I imagine he will be quite a manager.”

Gaardsoe has made an English career total of 140 appearances, scoring 11 goals.

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