Paul Woolston: Manchester United goalkeeper who retires at 23 gets support from David de Gea and Dean Henderson


Paul Woolston has been pushing to be a professional footballer from a very tender age and has sacrificed his childhood and teenage years training to become a renowned goalkeeper. But all that has shattered on the altar of a hip injury.

On Wednesday, March 23, 2022, Paul Woolston took to his Twitter page to announce that the injury he has been battling with has forced him to retire at 23-year-old.

The English goalkeeper who was born in North Shields, United Kingdom on August 14, 1998, started his football journey in Newcastle United football academy until July 1, 2014. He played for the Newcastle United Under-23 team until May 31, 2018.

During his time at Newcastle United, he went on loan to a couple of Championship clubs including Gateshead, Darlington 1883, Blyth Spartans, and South Shields.

Paul Woolston made his dream move to Manchester United on November 28, 2018. He did not walk straight into United’s senior team, he was registered as an under-23 goalkeeper.

In the summer of 2021, Manchester United decided to renew his contract which showed the amount of potential he had to be a top goalkeeper.

Before Manchester United offered him the new deal, he was already battling a hip injury. Paul Woolston had to undergo two different operations and a lengthy rehabilitation process. Yet, he could not bounce back to full fitness. Hence, he had to give up on his football career.

“Never thought I would have to write this at 23 but this chapter has had to come to an end,” Woolston tweeted. “I can look back proudly on what I’ve achieved in my career but I am excited about what’s in store for the future. A new chapter awaits.”

Before his retirement, the English goalkeeper has represented England in under-17 and under-20 levels. He made 13 appearances for Manchester United’s under-23 team in which he conceded 25 goals and kept 3 clean sheets.

Paul Woolston in England's colors.
Paul Woolston in England’s colors.

“To have to retire at just 23 has been tough to come to terms with but I feel a lot more positive now”, Paul Woolston told “I am 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 honor to represent Manchester United during my time here. The support of my family, friends, teammates, coaches, the medical staff and the 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.”

David de Gea and Dean Henderson pay tribute to

Paul Woolston: Manchester United goalkeeper who retires at 23 gets support from David de Gea and Dean Henderson
Manchester United first and second choice goalkeepers David de Gea and Dean Henderson.

Paul Woolston was supposed to be a future backup to David de Gea and Dean Henderson and probably overtake them. But he will no longer have the opportunity of fighting for a place in the Manchester United senior team.

While paying tribute to Woolston, David de Gea who is currently Manchester United’s first-choice goalkeeper said he has spoken with the retried goalkeeper and had told him that life is more important than football.

“It’s always bad when someone has to retire at a young age,” the Spanish goalkeeper said. “I’ve spoken with him, the other day, and said to him that the most important thing in life, more than football, is in terms of a proper life.

“It was sad. I have been training with him when he was fit, and it’s very sad news. I wish him all the best. He’s a great lad, a great goalkeeper and we all feel sorry for him. I trained with him and he had a very good left foot, I remember, and it’s sad for him and the club.

“But, as I said before, I was speaking with him and, first of all, it’s life and being in good conditions to have a good life. Of course, in life, sometimes problems happen and things happen. You have to keep looking forward, keep fighting and that is what life means. As I say, I wish him all the best.”

While Dean Henderson who is currently Manchester United’s second-choice goalkeeper described Paul Woolston’s early retirement as devastating.

“It’s devastating for himself and all of us around him,” the English goalkeeper said. “He was a great guy to work with throughout the age groups. When I was in the younger age groups, I even remember playing against him when he was at Newcastle. For such a young lad to retire at the age he is, is devastating.”


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