A heavy workload has led to experienced YoungHeart Manawatu midfielder Matt Kennedy calling it a day.
The College St Normal School teacher has been encouraged to pick up studying at Massey University again - so, after about 50 games for the green and whites since the 2008-09 season, he has hung up his boots.
"Through work, I've been encouraged to do some further study, and I guess it's something I've been pretty keen on for a while now," Kennedy said.
"Obviously it's impossible to juggle being a teacher and playing for YoungHeart Manawatu, then potentially trying to do some study on top of that. It felt like the right time."
Originally from Cambridge, Kennedy started with YoungHeart during former coach Bob Sova's first season in 2008.
The 28-year-old played 4 seasons, with YoungHeart's game against Auckland in December being his last, and has been through the good and the bad.
"I was quite fortunate my first year," Kennedy said. "We had a very strong side that went to the playoffs, and we ended up finishing third, losing to Auckland City.
"Obviously that's a bit of a contrast to the last couple of years, just tough times."
Before that, he had a decent stint in the United States, playing at Virginia Intermont College in Bristol, Virginia, before two years at the Vermont Voltage in the USL League.
He also had a year in Scotland, playing for Deveronvale in the Scottish Highland League in Aberdeenshire.
Kennedy has also terminated his job as Palmerston North Marist coach, which he did last year, and even playing club football could become limited.
"I can't manage having the same amount of time to dedicate to playing," he said. "I don't think I would enjoy doing it if I couldn't pursue it in the same way and put my best foot forward."
He said he would miss playing, but had to make the choice to put his job first. While he could "never say never" about making a comeback if YoungHeart asked for help, he couldn't see this happening.
"I think there's enough young boys coming through they won't need to give me a phone call."
After Adam Cowan, who has more than 140 caps, and Nathan Cooksley, who is nearing 100, experience is thin on the ground in the Manawatu side, who are rooted to the bottom of the table, and Kennedy's departure will leave a hole.
- © Fairfax NZ News