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Ex-West Ham, Gillingham, Birmingham, Plymouth, Luton player retires age 31 due to diagnosis

Ex-West Ham, Gillingham, Birmingham, Plymouth, Luton player Olly Lee sadly retires age 31 due to a diagnosis he emotionally reveals.

Lee has been forced to hang up his boots after being diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis and Raynaud’s condition, confirmed in a written statement via the Gills website on Wednesday (22nd February 2022).

According to the NHS, Raynaud’s affects your blood circulation. It causes some areas of your body to feel cold, sore or numb, or change colour.

Psoriatic arthritis is a type of arthritis that affects some people with the skin condition psoriasis. It typically causes affected joints to become swollen, stiff and painful. Like psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis is a long-term condition that can get progressively worse.


Club Statement.

The Football Club has released the following statement on behalf of Olly Lee:

“I can’t believe I am actually writing this, but having been diagnosed with Psoriatic Arthritis and Raynaud’s condition over a year ago, I am now having to face the fact I can no longer continue my professional football career.

I can no longer perform to the levels I know I am capable of, my body no longer allows it. This has been an extremely painful journey both mentally and physically. I have tried many medications over the last year, and many comebacks, but to no avail.

I am thankful for the moments I have been fortunate enough to experience, and can now finally look back on my career with pride at what I did manage to achieve.

I want to say a special thank you to my wife, Beth, for following me wherever football took us and never questioning it for a second, without your support I couldn’t have done any of it. To my kids, I wish you could have seen daddy play more but I won’t hesitate to get the clips out and I hope I will make you proud in the future. And to my family for guiding me and helping me in both the highs and the lows, I am forever grateful for you all.

I am thankful for all the support from the fans at the clubs I was lucky enough to represent, particularly Luton and Hearts, two clubs that are now extremely close to my heart and I will always follow.

A big thank you must go to Gillingham fans for always being great with me during my time at the club and particularly Manager Neil Harris and all staff behind the scenes for being so supportive during such a difficult period for myself.

There are still tough days ahead but I am very lucky to have found my passion in coaching, and helping people which I am excited to dive into now.

Although playing at the level is no longer part of my journey, it is now the fuel that drives me to help the next generation of players on their journey.”

Kind regards, Olly

Olly retires from the professional game having made 363 appearances in all competitions for a total of seven clubs across a 13-year career.

Having come through the academy ranks at West Ham United, Olly made his professional debut for Dagenham & Redbridge while on loan towards the end of the 2010-11 campaign and made five appearances before returning to Upton Park. 

A second loan stint at Dagenham followed during 2011-12, before joining Gills for the first time as a 20-year-old. He featured seven times before signing for Barnet that summer on a permanent basis. A year later he signed for Birmingham City on a one-year contract which was later extended by 12 months.

A loan stint at Plymouth would follow before Olly agreed a deal with Luton Town in August of 2015. He enjoyed great success while with the Hatters, being part of the squad that won promotion to League One in 2017-18.

After achieving promotion, Lee signed for Heart of Midlothian on a three-year deal in May 2018 and reached the Scottish Cup Final on two occasions. A year later he rejoined Gills on loan until January 2020, but this was later extended until the end of the season.

After a third loan spell at Priestfield, Olly signed a permanent deal at ME7 in June 2021. During his four stints while with the Gills he made 112 appearances and scored 12 times.

Everyone at Gillingham Football Club is devastated for Olly to have to retire. We would like to thank him for his services, and we wish him all the very best for the future.

Twitter users sent their love and support as the ex-West Ham, Gillingham, Birmingham, Plymouth, Luton player retires age 31 due to a diagnosis…

@MaxLewis070: Absolutely gutted for him. I hope you have all the success with the academy Olly. Thanks for the memories 💙

@tonywoodrow12: Gutted for you Olly. You have the experience and knowledge gained over the years and now it is your privilege to pass it on to the next generation. Time to look forward to this new chapter of your life and I wish you every success.

@Beanhead1411: thank you for giving your all in blue especially during a relegation battle @OllyLee7 – I wish you a better health and the best of luck with the academy. I have no doubt it will be a success.

@chrisrainbow78: Explains why it’s not quite worked out since signing permanently. Brilliant for us on loan. All the best for the future

@hthejambo: All the very best for the future olly u gave us some happy moments in Maroon especially that goal against the wee team

@TheTrueJake58: Good luck for the next chapter Olly 💙

@bigev84: Olly thank you so much for your service to the club. All the very best in the future! 💙

@ElmoGills: Very sad . Thanks for everything Olly. Wish you all the best for your future.

@kelly1latorre: Good luck with your coaching future you will be brilliant at it as you know first hand what it’s like to be a pro ! Wishing you good health and happiness in your future too

@SteveJoyce14: Such a shame. Best wishes for your future in the game.

@Sirman1978: So sorry to hear this Olly. You always gave 100% in the Gills shirt and I wish you well in your future plans.

@MikeM1987Gills: Absolutely gutted for you @OllyLee7 all the best in your health and future #Gills

@dougclutterbuck: First and foremost @OllyLee7 – I wish you a speedy road back to full health. Thanks for the effort and commitment shown in a blue shirt. Best of luck with the coaching.

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