Striker calls time on playing career
David Connolly has decided to cut short his second spell at Wimbledon and retire from playing after an illustrious career as a prolific striker.
The 37-year-old believes that now is the right time to hang up his boots after eight appearances for AFC Wimbledon since joining the club in January.
“Both Neal and I decided that we would take it month by month in terms of assessing whether I could deliver physically at my age,” Connolly said. “As time has gone on I felt that starting games was difficult and so too was travelling up and down the country to come off the bench for 10 minutes or so. Neal needed a striker that could play off Bayo Akinfenwa and start games and that wasn’t me.
“I pulled Neal aside for a heart to heart chat and I felt that now was the time to call it a day. I have always had fond memories of this club and my winning goal against Luton will live long in the memory. It was great to bring that joy to everyone at the club. I have spoken to Neal about coaching opportunities and that could be a possibility in the future.”
Connolly’s winning goal in the 3-2 victory against Luton Town meant that he had the privilege of scoring for both Wimbledon FC and AFC Wimbledon.
Neal Ardley said that Connolly was the best striker he ever played with in his career after playing alongside him at Wimbledon. The Dons manager added that Connolly leaves Wimbledon on good terms and he will be welcomed back at the club in future.
Speaking in an interview for Dons Player, Neal said: “David felt that he was struggling to bring to the party what we wanted from him. Before anyone jumps to any conclusions we get on brilliantly and we were on the phone for half an hour about it yesterday. We have so much respect for each other. When David did sign we talked about taking it month by month, but I misread it and thought that was him just being polite. It was actually David saying ‘I have not done this for a while and let’s see how my body will cope.' Probably what has gone in the last 18 months at Portsmouth has not helped his confidence.
“I have total respect for David. He feels that the money we are paying him would be better spent on someone who can start games. He does not feel he is that person. That is a rare quality to accept that. I cannot speak highly enough of him. I tried to talk him around, but his mind was made up. He has a couple of family issues and wants to spend more time with his Dad. I had to take all these things into consideration. He is a great guy and it would have been sad if he had not had that great moment against Luton. That felt really special and more than us just getting three points.
“David was the best striker I ever played with. I played with some good ones when I was with England Under-21s. For someone like me who liked to get forwards into the game, David’s movement and understanding of space was first class. He is a good friend of mine and a good friend of the club. I have invited David to come back and do coaching at the club whenever he is ready.”
David Connolly started his career with Watford and retires with a hugely impressive football CV. Capped by Republic of Ireland 41 times – including an appearance at the 2002 World Cup – David was snapped up by the Dons in 2001 after a spell playing for Dutch club Feyenoord.
During a long playing career that included spells with Wimbledon, West Ham, Leicester and Southampton, David accumulated an average scoring ratio of one goal in just over 2.5 games.
The photograph above (taken by Pro Sports Images) shows David Connolly celebrating his winning goal against Luton Town.
Neal Ardley talks about David's decision to retire during an interview on Dons Player, which also features the manager's post-match reaction.