RADCLIFFE assistant boss David Thompson admits he fell out of love with football following retirement at the age of just 29.

Having come through the ranks at Liverpool, the former midfielder went on to play for Coventry City, Blackburn Rovers, Wigan Athletic, Portsmouth and Bolton.

A promising career was cut short by injury in 2007 after eight games for Wanderers and the 42-year-old walked away from football for a time.

Now at Boro alongside one-time Coventry team-mate Lee Fowler, the former England Under-21 international is rediscovering his love for the game having come to terms with not being able to realise his undoubted potential.

“I had two or three years where I couldn’t even talk about it,” Thompson told Goal.

“I wanted nothing to do with football. I was so bitter, I wanted to stay away from it. I thought I could live without it, but I couldn’t. It’s in my DNA.

“I’ve started coaching and I’m enjoying it. I want to learn my trade and let nature take its course. I’m happy.

“I used to worry about what people would say about me. Someone on Twitter would say I was this and that and because I hadn’t won the European Cup or played for England, I’d just take it. But I know how good I was. I played in the Premier League, and you don’t do that if you’re not a good player.”

It was on England duty – having been called up by Sven-Goran Eriksson for Euro 2004 qualifiers against Macedonia and Slovakia – that Thompson felt a ‘pop’ in his knee while walking, and little did he know the cartilage had come away from the bone, leaving a hole in his knee.

He would try and kickstart his career with a handful of moves but eventually had to accept defeat.

On retirement, Thompson said: "It was quite easy actually, because I’d been wrestling with it for two years.

“I remember playing for Wigan in a reserve game against Manchester United, and they had Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic playing.

“Their team was lively, and it was on a cow-field of a pitch, and I just couldn’t do it, I couldn’t get going. I remember bursting out crying after the game and telling my missus I couldn’t take much more. I’d become a really average footballer.

“I was putting so much effort in to get so little out.”