LOYAL servant Stephen Purches is vowing to give his all to his coaching role with Cherries after finally conceding defeat in his painstaking bid to play again.
Purches, who has spent the past 12 months overseeing the club’s development squad, has announced his retirement as a player on medical grounds.
The 34-year-old is one of Cherries’ all-time leading appearance-makers but has not played competitively since sustaining a double leg break against Rochdale in February 2012.
Purches was rewarded for his service to the club with a richly-deserved testimonial against West Ham and featured in the club’s high-profile friendly against Real Madrid last summer.
He made 443 professional appearances for two clubs in a career spanning 16 years and returned to Dean Court for a second spell in 2010 after spending two years with Leyton Orient.
Purches, who initially joined Cherries on a free transfer from West Ham in July 2000, told the Daily Echo: “My leg is back to a point where I can kick a ball and run but not to the level it needs to be to play professional football and I have been advised to call it a day.
“It was a tough decision to make but, once you know it is the end, you have to be honest with yourself. I tried my best last season to give myself every chance to play but it wasn’t to be. Nobody wants to finish playing but things happen for a reason.
“I need to be sensible because I have got the rest of my life to lead and there are more important things than just trying to scrounge another year as a player. I wouldn’t want to end my career somewhere else just for the sake of trying to play a few more games. I have had a great career and, as one door closes, another one opens.”
Purches, who holds a UEFA A coaching licence, will join manager Eddie Howe’s backroom staff on a full-time basis once his playing contract has officially expired at the end of next month.
“I have been very fortunate to have been given an opportunity to carry on working here,” said Purches. “I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else because I have learned a great deal from the manager and Jason (Tindall) over the past 12 months.
“Working with the development squad has given me a really good insight into everything that goes on. When you are on the coaching side, you can never switch off and it is non-stop. I have been lucky to have had a chance to gradually move into that side of the game.
“Now I have decided to call it a day, I can devote all my time to working with and trying to improve the young players rather than thinking I might have a chance to get back out there again.
"My 100 per cent focus is making sure I do the best for the club, as it was when I was a player. Signing here 14 years ago gave me an opportunity to set up the rest of my life and I will always be grateful for everything this club has given me.”