FORMER Reading FC striker and 2012 Championship winner Simon Church has been forced to retire from football at the age of 29.

Church announced he is hanging up his boots ‘on medical advice’ after an 11-year professional career.

He most recently played for Plymouth Argyle, but made only two appearances for the League One Pilgrims last season.

He said: “Never thought this day would come but with the medical advice I have received I am now officially hanging up my boots.

“I have been fortunate enough to have lived my dream for 11 years professionally. I have experienced moments you can only dream of when you’re a child.

“I want to thank all the clubs I’ve been at as well as the fans, players, staff and a handful of managers.

“I have been lucky enough to meet some amazing people and friends on the way.”

Church was snapped up by Reading as a 14-year-old from the Wycombe Wanderers Centre of Excellence.

He rose through the youth ranks and made his first team debut in the 2009 play-off semi final second leg to Burnley during the last days of Steve Coppell’s reign.

Reading Chronicle:

Simon Church scores for Reading.

But Church path to the first team was often blocked by stiff competition from Dave Kitson, Kevin Doyle and Shane Long.

Nevertheless, Church made 122 first-team appearances for Royals and scored 24 goals.

During his time at Madejski Stadium he was sent out on loan to Crewe Alexandra, Yeovil Town, Wycombe, Leyton Orient and Huddersfield Town before a permanent move to Charlton in 2013.

He spent two years with the Addicks, netting five times in 55 games, before a productive loan spell for Aberdeen where he scored six goals in 16 games.

However, Church struggled for fitness after that as his career took him to JC Kerkrade in the Netherlands, Scunthorpe United and finally Plymouth.

He also grabbed five goals made 38 appearances for Wales where he listed Gareth Bale and Ryan Giggs among his former team-mates.

He added: “Playing for wales was an absolute honour. The achievements we had as a team are something I’m immensely proud of being a part of.

“The group of boys were the best on and off the pitch I have ever been with.

“Lastly I would like to thank my family and agent for always being supportive and there for me especially as these last 18 months have probably been the hardest of my journey.

“I now look forward to the next chapter as one door closes many others open.”