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The most experienced Irishman in the English Football League has retired

Wicklow’s Barry Roche played 619 times while representing Nottingham Forest, Chesterfield and Morecambe.

Barry Roche is to stay at Morecambe as goalkeeping coach, having had 12 seasons with the club as a player.
Barry Roche is to stay at Morecambe as goalkeeping coach, having had 12 seasons with the club as a player.
Image: Barrington Coombs/EMPICS Sport

VETERAN IRISH GOALKEEPER Barry Roche has announced his retirement after 20 seasons of competitive football as a professional.

Roche hangs up his gloves at League Two side Morecambe, where he took his tally of career appearances to 619.

The 38-year-old played more club games in England than any other Irishman who was active during the 2019-20 Football League season, with senior internationals Richard Keogh and Glenn Whelan next on the list.

He made his professional debut with Nottingham Forest in the Championship during the 2000-01 season. The former Ireland U21 international also spent three seasons with Chesterfield, before beginning a 12-year spell at Morecambe in 2008. 

Roche, who’s staying on at Morecambe as the club’s goalkeeping coach, said: “It’s been one hell of a journey and I’d like to thank everyone at Nottingham Forest, Chesterfield and especially Morecambe for everything you have done for me along the way. Time to focus on the next chapter in coaching.”

At the age of 18, Roche made his debut off the bench for Forest against Crystal Palace following the sending-off of ex-England international goalkeeper Dave Beasant. With his first touch in professional football, the Wicklow native saved a penalty from Julian Gray.

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At Morecambe, where he was named Player of the Season twice, Roche was appointed club captain in 2010 after helping the club to reach the League Two play-offs. He also made headlines in 2016 by scoring a dramatic 94th-minute equaliser against Portsmouth.

Last October, he shared interim management duties with Morecambe team-mate Kevin Ellison for one game following the departure of Jim Bentley.

In an interview with The42 after he was awarded a testimonial by Morecambe in 2018, Roche said: “It’s incredibly difficult to make a career in the game here. The numbers and statistics prove that. It’s a very cut-throat and ruthless game to make it in. I’m one of the lucky ones who stayed in the game and earned an okay living from it.

“I wouldn’t say I don’t have any regrets. I feel that if I had knuckled down and worked harder a lot earlier in my career I could have achieved better things. But that has happened and you can’t change the past. Overall I think I’ve done pretty well and it’s something I’m very proud of.” 

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Paul Dollery

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