Paul Hartley retires from football

Aberdeen midfielder terminates contract by mutual agreement and hangs up his boots.

Paul Hartley earned 25 Scotland caps during his career. Pic: © SNS Group

Paul Hartley has retired from football after agreeing a mutual termination of contract with Aberdeen.

The former Scotland midfielder has decided that he can no longer compete at the highest level and has decided to bow out despite Dons boss Craig Brown trying to persuade him to play on. Hartley is now planning a career in coaching and intends to become a manager.

The Aberdeen captain last played for the club in the 2-1 cup win over St Mirren on March 16 but has been ruled out since then through injury. However, he has said that back to back matches against Celtic prior to that match had convinced him it was time to put his playing days behind him.

“The realisation hit me over a couple of weeks at the end of January into February,” he told the Daily Record. “We played Celtic in the Co-operative Insurance Cup semis at Hampden and lost 4-1.  

“We played them in the league a few days later 3-0. I felt then I wasn’t able to compete at the level I need to.

“Players were running past me and I couldn’t keep it with them.”

Hartley now draws a line under a playing career that began at Hamilton Accies back in 1994. Since then he has played at Millwall, Raith Rovers, Hibernian, Morton, St Johnstone, Hearts, Celtic and Bristol City. He also earned 25 international caps.

“It’s time to stop playing,” he admitted. “Part of me is sad and part of me is relieved.

“It only seems like yesterday I was cleaning boots for the first team players at Hamilton, yet it was 20 years ago.

“You think you can play forever but when your legs just can’t get you about the pitch then you know it’s time to stop.”