FORMER Johnstone Burgh captain Niall Herron has told how being forced to quit the beautiful game at the age of 22 left him heartbroken.

Herron suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury against Carluke in October 2020, which ruled him out of action for more than a year.

He returned to training in 2021 but never felt comfortable and made the difficult decision to stop playing in January this year.

Almost two months later, he admits it has been tough to come to terms with the fact his playing days are over.

Herron told Gazette Sport: “I’m still feeling pretty gutted but I just don’t think there was any way of getting back.

“I’ve been to the physio in the last few weeks and it has been suggested I may need more surgery. I’m thinking about the future, in terms of being older and if I can’t walk.

“You get good days and bad days but, when I overuse my knee, it can be sore.

“It’s annoying that, at the age of 22, I feel like I can’t overwork my knee.”

Herron, who is a mechanical engineering student, suffered the injury almost 18 months ago but can remember it as if it was yesterday.

He explained: “It happened in October 2020 down in Carluke. I was playing at left-back and took a throw-in. I got the ball back but then took a heavy touch and went into a 50/50 with a guy but he got there just before me and kicked the ball off my foot.

“As I came in, I just popped back and went into an awkward position on my knee. I felt it straight away and knew was something was wrong.

“One of the boys had to drive my car back or I would have been stranded in Carluke. I made sure he was going at the right speed and being careful.”

Herron went under the knife in January last year in a bid to get back playing.

“I was told that, from then, it was a nine to 12-month recovery process,” he said. “I went back to training with Burgh in October 2021 and the first few sessions were okay but, as I kept training, it felt like it was getting worse and there was no support in the knee.

“I tried to build it up as much as I could but I was missing training sessions because I didn’t want to risk it and there was just no way of getting back to a level where I’d be able to play games.”

More from Herron can be found in this week's edition of The Gazette.