First off, we must congratulate Ryan Mason on his career.
Born in Enfield, he would have dreamt of playing for Spurs and England from a very young age.
Whatever direction his life takes now, he can forever be immensely proud that he made that dream a reality.
26-years-old is no age to retire.
It doesn’t matter how much money he’s made, or what you thought of him as a player, a human being being forced to give up what they love most for reasons out of their control is tragic.
It may not seem like it at times, in an age when internet trolls roam free, but most people wouldn’t wish this upon any player.
It’s easy to forget that professionals started out like you and me.
Mason, Messi, take your pick, they all pretended to be their hero while playing in the garden, or the street, desperately wishing they’d beat the astronomical odds and get to play even just one game at the top level.
Imagine the devastation of walking out onto a pitch and not knowing it would be the last game you play.
Every single player in the world takes that risk on a weekly basis.
Mason’s premature retirement reminds us all of the fragile nature of football.
At any moment, any player could suffer a career-ending injury — the random force behind such accidents doesn’t care what team the player represents, how old they are, how good they are, it’s brutally indiscriminate.
Collisions like the one between Mason and Gary Cahill, that left the Hull midfielder with a fractured skull, are rare but serious injuries are relatively common.
Ruptured ligaments, broken legs, dislocated ankles… all potential career-enders.
The more toxic zones of social media would lead us to believe that such injuries are welcome in the sport, if they happen to a player who has somehow offended the person behind the keyboard.
Whenever Daniel Sturridge, Jack Wilshere, or any other injury-prone player hobbles off, their setback is met with a torrent of ‘banter’ tweets.
A fellow human’s physical (and probably physiological) anguish wouldn’t be such a laughing matter in any other area of life, so why is it such common place in football?
Most the ill-wishes lack sincerity and are only enabled by the cloak of anonymity.
But it feels as if sympathy for players is at an all-time low.
Genuine animosity is incredibly harmful to the sport.
Sympathy for Mason has been widespread, rightfully so.
Hopefully his situation will provoke an increase in empathy and humanitarianism towards Mason’s fellow professionals from a few more fans.
They may seem like superheroes at times, but they’re not.
Unfortunately, Mason is not the last player to be forced into premature retirement.
Let’s not take any player for granted — the beautiful game can be savagely cruel.