Few players can claim to have altered the course of a Club’s trajectory, but Wycombe Wanderers’ Matt Bloomfield has truly earned his place among the EFL’s greatest servants.
The veteran midfielder has clocked 558 appearances in total, all but one of which came for the Chairboys, before calling time on his playing days.
And although he has struggled to come to terms as the curtain comes down on a dazzling career in the EFL with the Chairboys, the former Ipswich Town Academy graduate is thankful for every moment spent on and off the pitch.
“It’s been an emotional few days but it’s certainly given me a life lesson about the relationships you build with people,” he began. “To spend your whole career at one Club really allows you to make the life-lasting bonds with people. It went by a blur in many ways, the 18 years, because there was always something to strive for and achieve.
“The thing I’ve learnt from a life in football is those relationships you build with people; it’s about spending a life with good people and the memories you make along the way. I’ve been extremely fortunate to live a life in football and live my dream for the 21 years since I left school and became a professional footballer.”
As a result of an injury sustained at the beginning of the season when Wycombe travelled to Exeter City in the Carabao Cup, the 37-year-old announced he would be hanging up his boots earlier in the week.
In a heartfelt open statement to the Wanderers faithful, he thanked the Club – including the manager, backroom staff, owners and supporters alike – for their support across his 18-year stay in Buckinghamshire.
“It was an innocuous incident at Exeter; the ball hit me on the back of the head, knocking me to the ground,” he explained. “I knew where I was, but I was dizzy. Getting off the pitch was an issue – I was trying to walk straight, and I kept veering off towards the away end off to the right. The doctor said when I was walking down the tunnel that I was hitting both sides of the walls.
“In the days and weeks that followed, I was struggling to see light in things that usually gave me great light like sitting with my girls and reading their books. My fatigue levels were high, and my energy levels were really low. After a week or two, I tried to get out on my bike but couldn’t – I literally had to turn around as soon as I got to the end of my road. Everything was a lot harder.
“The doctor took me to see some different people and we got as much advice as we could. Unfortunately, the only course of action was to retire. It’s taken a while to come to that conclusion, but I know it’s the right conclusion because I have to put my brain health first and the repercussions of that incident have been long lasting.
Bloomfield, who is now looking to the next stage of his career, looks back fondly on his career.
Among his greatest achievements as a Wanderer, having seen just about everything during his time at Adams Park, is a first-ever promotion to the Sky Bet Championship via the Play-Offs. The bonafide Club legend captained his side to a 2-1 victory over local rivals Oxford United, thus living out his childhood dream to step out in the home of football.
“In an ideal world, you go out on your own terms and you can choose your last game and you get to say goodbye to people that have made a big influence and difference on your career. To go out away at Exeter, miles from home with only 150 Wycombe fans there is not the ideal scenario, but that happens in life.”
It is, therefore, no surprise that the midfielder has been flooded with well-wishers, sharing their memories of Matt Bloomfield the captain, the leader and the legend, both on and off the football field.
“It makes me feel really, really proud,” he added. “I never envisaged that I’d be so inundated with messages from ex-team-mates, current team-mates, supporters of our Club and from Ipswich and other teams around the country. I’m so touched. It’s been so incredible, and I feel so lucky.”