Paul Woolston.

Woolston announces his retirement

Wednesday 23 March 2022 14:00

Manchester United goalkeeper Paul Woolston has retired from playing professional football at the age of 23.

Following significant determination to return to fitness, including two operations and a lengthy rehabilitation period, Paul has unfortunately had to end his playing career. Woolston joined United in 2018 after impressing against the club when playing for Newcastle United’s Under-18s. After joining Sunderland at the age of 10, Woolston departed for the Magpies in 2015 and was the club’s third-choice keeper for the 2016/17 Championship-winning season.

Representing his country up to Under-18s level, Woolston also travelled with England to the European Under-17 Championship and Under-17s World Cup. Paul has experience across the football pyramid, having enjoyed loan experiences around the north east at Gateshead, Darlington, Blyth Spartans and South Shields.

Throughout his time at United, he represented the Under-23s to the highest standard and regularly trained with the first-team, taking a great deal of technical and mental learning from the club’s groups of world-class goalkeepers.

Woolston reacts to retirement news Video

Woolston reacts to retirement news

Under-23s keeper Paul Woolston explains why he is now feeling more positive after being forced to quit football...

“To have to retire at just 23 has been really tough to come to terms with but I feel a lot more positive now,” said Woolston.

“I am really proud of everything that I have achieved, many people dream of playing football at this level. Of course, I would have loved to have gone on further but it has been an absolute honour to represent Manchester United during my time here.

“The support of my family, friends, team-mates, coaches, the medical staff and entire Manchester United Academy has been phenomenal. Everyone has played a major part in my journey by keeping my spirits up, allowing me to reflect positively on my playing experiences and begin to look to the future.

“Right now, I am fully focused on the next stage of my career. I am ready to use all of my learnings, resilience, drive and determination to make a real success of my life.”

The club has put together a robust support programme for Paul. Various informal and formal education sessions have taken place. Woolston has received support with his coaching badges and will have the opportunity to travel abroad with younger age groups to aid his learning process.

A variety of work-experience placements have been set up both within the club and externally. Paul has also received significant mentorship from across Manchester United to guide him into the next stage of his career.

“Paul has maximised every opportunity presented to him along his football journey. He has created wonderful memories and developed skills and relationships that will stay with him for the rest of his life,” said Nick Cox, head of Academy.

“His family have been incredibly supportive; their overwhelming emotion is pride in everything that Paul has achieved and the way that he has dealt with everything over the last year.

“The resilience he has shown throughout the entire process has been really quite amazing. Naturally, the whole of the Academy is bitterly disappointed for Paul, he had already achieved a great deal for a young goalkeeper.

“He has dealt with the setbacks in a hugely impressive manner and that determination will stand him in great stead for what comes next.

Goalkeepers rally round Woolston


De Gea, Henderson, Heaton and Grant offer their support to Paul, following his retirement.

"I have to take the opportunity to praise the staff here as well, the support that they have given to Paul is as much a testament to them as it is to his infectious personality," added Cox. "We know that Paul will take his wealth of experience from across football, combined with his relentless drive, and go out and make a major success of his career.

"Paul will, of course, be a lifelong member of our family here and remains a perfect example of determination and resilience to everyone at Manchester United Academy."

Everybody at Manchester United wishes Paul the very best for the future.