Brave former Carlisle United midfielder Joe Thompson, who twice recovered from cancer during his career, has announced he is retiring from professional football.

The 29-year-old, who made 17 appearances for Carlisle, scoring once, announced his decision to hang up his boots this afternoon on Rochdale's website.

He said: "My decision to retire has been one of the hardest I’ve ever had to make.

"After several discussions with my specialists and consultants, it is with a heavy heart that I'm retiring from the game I love.

"I have battled through some of life's hardest challenges and have managed to overcome them. However, I’ve pushed my body to the absolute limit.

"My mind has grown stronger but, with the intense treatment my body has had to endure over the last six years, it is no longer able to perform to the demands of the professional game.

"I owe it to my body and also to my family who have all seen me go through hell on more than one occasion. I would like to thank them dearly; particularly my wife Chantelle, my mum Michelle, brother Reuben and my amazing daughter Lula. You have all been my light in my darkest days.

"I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my team-mates, my manager Keith Hill and all the staff at Rochdale.

"You are truly an unbelievable group of people. Thank you for all the support and faith you have put in me over the years.

"It has been an honour and a privilege to work alongside you all and create memories I shall cherish forever."

He added: "I'm a firm believer that, when one door closes, another door opens. I’m looking forward to all the new opportunities that will come my way.

"I'm hugely excited to enter the world of motivational speaking, mentoring and the media. I believe I have a duty to mentor to younger professionals in the game. I also feel my story has the power to help others in all walks of life to overcome their own adversities and empower them to fulfil their potential.

"A special mention must go to the board at Rochdale, both past and present, who alongside the PFA, have dealt with my situation with the upmost professionalism. 

"Last but not least, I would like to thank the footballing world, especially the Rochdale fans who have been with me since I made my debut 13 years ago."

United captain Danny Grainger was among the first to praise Thompson.

"The most inspirational person I had the pleasure to share a dressing room with and also call a friend and team-mate," the Cumbrian said on Twitter.

"Good luck with the next chapter, no doubt you will be a success."

As well as Rochdale and Carlisle, Thompson counts Tranmere, Bury, Wrexham and Southport among his former clubs.