Former Celtic star Joe Ledley opens up on retirement and his next steps

By David Walton

June 1, 2022

Former Celtic midfielder Joe Ledley has explained why he retired last year as he outlined his classy next step in football.

Ledley was and still is a Hoops fan-favourite after spending 4 wonderful years at Parkhead. The Welsh hero made 157 appearances for the club and left Glasgow with 3 titles and 2 Scottish Cups. Not to mention last-16 Champions League football experience.

He’s continued to be vocal in his support of Celtic with the Hoops fanbase still hugely admiring of him. But unfortunately, Ledley called time on a fine career last year after further spells with Crystal Palace, Derby, Charlton, Newcastle Jets, and Newport County respectively.

Photo by Ashley Feder/Getty Images

And now, he’s putting all of his efforts into the Joe Ledley Football Academy this summer – a project designed to help youngsters in Wales develop their game under qualified FA coaches. Speaking about both his retirement and his next steps, Ledley said the following as quoted by Wales Online:

“It’s difficult. If anyone asks me, I don’t really miss playing football. I retired because my body can’t do it anymore, that’s the only reason. I found it difficult with injuries and hip problems to be at the level I always wanted to be at. I am very grateful I have a fantastic family behind me and great friends, which makes life a lot easier.

“I’ve been away from Wales for over 10 years. I’ve been to London and I’ve seen the opportunities the kids have there. I’ve been to Glasgow, Derby. I just feel like Wales are a little bit behind. I think it’s just an opportunity to have as big an input as possible to give young girls and boys a chance to play football and enjoy it. If we can help someone in the long term, to better their careers, that’s the aim.

“When I was growing up I’d struggle to get goalposts, we just used to put jumpers down. It has gone a lot better since my time, but if you go to local areas, you are still struggling to get goalposts. We need to take advantage of these young kids coming through, if not to be professional then just to be active. It’s just about making sure kids enjoy playing football and being active, because the other route is just sitting at home on the computer!”

Joe Ledley taking his passion to grassroots football

Credit to Ledley for what’s clearly a classy initiative. The more academies that open up, the more chance football in the UK is able to ensure more youngsters make the breakthrough. That’s clearly Ledley’s aim.

Clearly, the former Celtic man believes there’s a bereft of opportunities for Wesh youngsters. Perhaps surprising given football is clearly on the rise in Wales thanks to the success of the national team. Hopefully, Joe gets plenty of success from his academy’s work.

Of course, that’s not all Joe’s been up to since his retirement last year. He’s regularly been heard on live BBC broadcasts doing punditry and commentary work. He’s also been seen on rare occasions doing work with Celtic TV too – such is the popularity of the man up here.

Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

It’s something Ledley has taken to well. It would be ideal to see him on more broadcasts up in Scotland given the impact he actually made in Scotland.

It’ll also be interesting to see if Ledley decides to go into coaching himself at some point down the line. He certainly has plenty of experience to his name and appears to have the personality for it too. As of yet, however, there are no signs of it.

Regardless, massive credit to him for opening the Joe Ledley Football Academy. Hopefully it fulfills its goal of providing more development opportunities for Wales’ brightest youngsters.

In other news, Report: Celtic keeping tabs on another Shamrock Rovers talent