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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Dave Clement's Son, Neil Clement, Fored to Retire Through Injury

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WBA Official Site 'Devastated' Clem forced to retire
Posted on: Wed 06 Jan 2010
NEIL Clement has been forced to retire from professional football on medical advice.

The left-sided defender has reluctantly admitted defeat in his long-running battle to recover from a right knee injury, which he suffered during pre-season some 17 months ago.

Clement, under the guidance of the club's medical staff, has left no stone unturned in his quest to regain full fitness.

He has undergone two knee operations, sought treatment from top specialists as far afield as Germany and spent countless hours in the gym.

With the injury still not fully healed, the 31-year-old made his last throw of the dice to resurrect his career by having a course of pioneering platelet injections in the joint.

However, Clement's consultant has confirmed to him the treatment has not worked and, having explored all available avenues, he has strongly advised him to hang up his boots.

The Reading-born player says he is devastated his playing career is over and claims the news hasn't properly sunk in yet.

"I knew I was struggling because I'd been out for so long but when I actually heard the consultant say those words, it was still a really bitter pill to swallow," said Clement.

"Nothing can prepare you for it. Being told your career is over is the one thing no player wants to hear.

"However, I can take real comfort from the fact I have tried absolutely everything to get back playing again.

"In years to come, it would have been an awful thing to look back and think 'why didn't I try this or that'?

"I have no regrets because, in my heart of hearts, I know I couldn't have done anymore.

"The hardest thing to take is that, when I got back into the team at the end of the 2007/08 season, I felt I was playing better than ever and coming into my prime - both physically and mentally.

"So to get this injury the following pre-season - especially on the eve of our return to the Premier League - was a devastating blow."

Clement is now weighing up his options but says he definitely wants to stay in football.

The club have offered him the chance to work within their Academy and sports science departments for the remainder of the season to help him decide his next career move - and he has jumped at the chance.

Clement added: "I'm delighted that the chairman, Dan Ashworth and Roberto Di Matteo still feel I have a lot to offer the club - as do I.

"It's going to take me some time to get over the shock of being told my playing days are over but life will go on and I've got a new challenge to look forward to.

"West Bromwich Albion have been part and parcel of my life for the past ten years and I want to say a massive thank you to everyone at the club and, of course, the fans for all their support over the past decade."

Clement has etched his name in Hawthorns folklore by becoming the first player in Albion history to help the club win THREE promotions.

'Clem's' eventful ten-year spell with the Baggies began with a loan move from Chelsea on transfer deadline day in March 2000.

Then only 21, he played a key role in helping Albion avoid relegation to the old Division Two, which earned him a permanent £100,000 move in the summer.

Clement kicked off his first full season at the club as a left-sided centre-half in a back three and proved an instant hit, winning the club's Player-of-the-Year Award as the Baggies lost in the play-off semi-finals.

He moved to left wing-back during 2001/02 and helped Albion end their 16-year top-flight exile by winning promotion to the Premier League for the first time.

Clement's consistent performances and eye for goal from set-plays also earned him a place in the Division One PFA XI.

After figuring regularly during Albion's relegation the following term, he suffered the first real setback of his Baggies career in 2003/04 when he lost his position as first-choice left-back to new recruit Paul Robinson.

However, Clement underlined his versatility that season by serving in midfield, at centre-half and even at centre-forward on occasion as Albion immediately won promotion back to the top flight.

He played a key role in Albion's Great Escape during 2004/05 as the Baggies became the first team bottom of the Premier League at Christmas to avoid the drop.

Clement was appointed vice-captain during 2005/06 and skippered the side on several occasions in the absence of Kevin Campbell, as Albion returned to the Championship.

Unfortunately, Clement's next two seasons were hampered by a left knee problem - but he still enjoyed a glorious end to 2007/08.

After returning from a month's loan at Hull, he brought stability to the backline in a seven-match unbeaten league run which culminated in him clinching a hat-trick of promotions.

Clement also deservedly won a place in the club's starting XI for their narrow FA Cup semi-final defeat by Portsmouth at Wembley.

His latest knee injury, this time in his other leg, struck the following August and he has been sidelined ever since.

Fittingly, his last competitive game for the club was at QPR in May 2008 - the day Albion clinched their first league title for 88 years thanks to a 2-0 win.

In total, Clement has made exactly 300 appearances for Albion, scoring 26 goals.

He made three appearances for his only other permanent club, Chelsea, who he joined as a schoolboy.

While at Stamford Bridge, he enjoyed three loan spells at Reading (11 appearances, one goal), Preston (four appearances) and Brentford (eight appearances).

In total, Clement made 326 career appearances, scoring 27 times. WBA

Neil Clement Flashback

Promotion hat-tricks in football are as rare as bus passengers with the correct change, but Neil Clement is on the brink of a unique treble. By tonight, West Bromwich Albion defender Clement could be celebrating his third elevation to the PremierLeague in five years with the same club under different managers....

In a nostalgic twist, Clement could clinch the Championship title in his 300th game for Albion next Sunday at Queens Park Rangers, where Clement's late father Dave is still a Hoops legend, with his five-year-old daughter Olivia as mascot.
Dry your eyes, settle down and pay attention. The Baggies are not there yet. But even chocoholic manager Tony Mowbray knows only the crumbliest, flakiest defence would blow it now. The only player who comes close to matching Clement's achievement is Malky Mackay, who went up to the Premier League three years running with Norwich, West Ham and Watford. But Clement's feat would be something special for a footballing family in which his brother, Paul, is academy coach at beaten FA Youth Cup finalists Chelsea.
Neil, 29, said: "This time promotion would mean more to me, simply because I've had to come through a serious injury and some difficulties off the pitch. I would love to seal the title at QPR because of the emotional aspect. I hope my little girl will come out on the pitch with me because I have pictures on the wall at home of me running out at Loftus Road when I was only three years old.
"It would be nice if we could make it three generations of the Clement dynasty who have kicked a ball on that pitch. If my dad's looking down onus, I hope the last two games of the season will make him proud. He's sorely missed by the whole family, but his name lives on.
"Even 25 years later, QPR fans come up to me and say: 'Your old man was a legend' - which is a great tribute to him in itself. But what makes it even more special is when people tell me what a nice fella he was.
"People say his QPR team of 1975-6, who were pipped to the title by Liverpool, were the best side never to be champions so I'm just proud to be following in those footsteps....

Times- Neil Clement hoping to celebrate two promotions in one season
Peter Lansley

"...Talking of going back home, Clement can envisage clinching a first title medal next week away to Queens Park Rangers, for whom his father, Dave, played for 14 years before his career ended in tragic fashion. Having moved on to Wimbledon, he broke a leg and, believing that his career was over, fell into depression and committed suicide.
“Of course it would be nice to put the seal on it at QPR because of the emotional aspect,” Clement said. “I hope my little girl [Olivia, 5] will come out on the pitch with me because I have pictures on the wall at home of me running out at Loftus Road when I was only 3. It would be nice if we could make it three generations of the Clement dynasty who have kicked a ball on that pitch.
“If my dad's looking down on us, I hope the last two games of the season will make him proud. He's sorely missed by the whole family, but his name lives on. Even 25 years on, QPR fans come up to me and say ‘your old man was a legend' - which is a great tribute in itself - but what makes it even more special is when people tell me what a nice fellow he was.”
Clement is relishing playing for such high stakes again and he believes that another promotion would be all the sweeter for the period he spent out of the game. “It was a tough time,” he said. “Some days were gruelling and it was tough to stay mentally focused. I never thought I couldn't do it. The loan period at Hull really made it strong and good. I worked hard in the gym...The Times

Express and Star Clem set for emotional milestone

Neil Clement is hoping to complete a “dream” return from injury hell by making his 300th Albion appearance next week at the footballing home of his father.

And the Baggies’ longest-serving player is hoping to make next Sunday’s emotional trip to QPR a real family affair – by persuading young daughter Olivia to become a mascot.

The defender is in line to reach his Albion triple century at Loftus Road, where his father Dave spent 14 years as a player.

Tragically, Dave took his own life in 1982 believing his career was over after suffering a broken leg.

Neil was just three but he still feels the emotional ties to Loftus Road, where his last appearance coincidentally came on the 25th anniversary of his dad’s death. And he is acutely aware of the potential significance of reaching a career milestone at Loftus Road, hopefully having clinched an unprecedented third promotion with Albion and helped the club to the Championship title.“Hopefully I can make all of this come true because it is almost like a dream,” he said.

“If I stay fit and stay in the team it would be my 300th game at my old man’s old club. I am trying to get my little girl to be mascot but she is a little bit nervous at the moment. It would be a proud moment.”

Clement has played at QPR just three times before as an Albion player, and he revealed in the past how special it is to return to the former stomping ground of his father, who won five England caps.

“I love going to QPR and trying to do my best,” he said. “The fans remember my dad very well at Rangers and I hope some of that comes out whenever I play there. I’m proud of what he achieved.”

A triple-century of Albion appearance is not the only piece of history that beckons for Clement. He is on the brink of becoming the first player ever to win promotion three times in Baggies colours. And he reckons this promotion would trump his previous successes.

“This time would cap it all. The team has played some smashing football,” he added. Express and Star - QPR Report

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