Some footballers never recover from the shock of being put out to grass at an unexpectedly early age.
But injury-plagued Wolverhampton Wanderers defender Mark Clyde has tried to sprout a flourishing long-term future for himself and his family by making the hard decision to quit football.
After a two-year battle to recover from a string of injuries related to reactive arthritis, Clyde called time on his professional career late last week when he announced his retirement at the age of 24 to embark on a new career as a landscape gardener.
Wolves manager Mick McCarthy, who had use of the adaptable Ulsterman only for his first three matches in charge in August, believes it has taken guts to come to this decision.
"Lots of players would stay with mother hen, stay under that umbrella and keep on trying to get fit which, at 24, is what you expect," McCarthy said. "But he's had two years of coming back, then not coming back and keeping getting injured, and he's now made a brave decision that I would support.
"He's got a business opportunity to not be tied to the football, to move on and do something else and I admire him for that.
"He's always had an eye for business and, although we'll miss him, we'll have to get on with it.
"It's very disappointing as he's a real competitor. Another is Rob Edwards who can play in so many positions and to have him available all season would really have suited me but it's a sad day for the club as well as Mark because we are losing a good player."
Clyde's announcement was rather hidden away in the build-up, then the post-victory euphoria of the victory at Preston North End last Saturday.
It was in this season's first meeting with Preston, at Molineux in August, that he made the last of his 47 league appearances for Wolves.
After achieving his first -team breakthrough in the autumn of 2002 following a successful loan spell with Kidderminster Harriers, Clyde earned a promotion medal in an unbroken run at centre-half that kept captain Paul Butler sidelined for 15 matches.
He also made a string of appearances at right-back late in Wolves' one season in the Premiership, which helped him make the breakthrough on to the international stage.
Three full caps for Northern Ireland came the following season but his run of bad luck began with a swollen ankle in the pre-season of 2005.
He missed the whole campaign and after he reported fit this summer it was a shin injury during the Preston match which proved to be the beginning of the end.
The popular, likeable Clyde said: "It's annoying that I have to pack up at my age. But it's not the end of the world. I know there are plenty more people in a worse situation than me.
"I almost got back to full fitness last season, only to get more problems with my hamstring and then my hip. I was advised to take medication or stop playing altogether and, although the tablets worked at first, they are not having the right effect now and I've come to the decision that enough is enough.
"This has been going on for more than two years. I talked it through with the club's physiotherapist and the doctor and they were on the same wavelength.
"I want to feel like I'm earning a living. That's the way I've been brought up. It's not going to go away if I carry on but if I quit football and stop training every day, then there's a chance that I'll not be as aware of the symptoms.
"I'm not doing anyone any favours coming in every day and spending two hours lying on a bed in the treatment room. That's not what I signed up to do."