How Sheffield squash champion Nick Matthew knew it was time to quit after 20 trophy-laden years 

Nick Matthew
Nick Matthew

The best thing about retirement for squash legend Nick Matthew? Fewer airports!

The three-time world champion quit tournament play earlier this year after 20 years on the professional circuit and is loving being able to spend more time in his home city of Sheffield.

"I'm probably still playing at a 'top 20 in the world' standard," he says. "But the daily slog of training, playing and travelling takes its toll. Just having a break from an airport for a bit feels good. 

"I do it for fun now. When I come on a court now, I'm looking forward to playing as opposed to having that feeling of 'I have to do it'. I don't want to fall out of love with this. I didn't want to keep competing and become bitter about it."

People had been asking Matthew, now 38, about retirement for eight years. Eventually, more injuries meant less consistency in results and he sensed when the time was right.

"When you get into your 30s, the 'R' word always comes up. It's like the Bogeyman. It follows you around," he says. "You try not to think about it too much; you want to focus on the here and now. But you get to a point where you think: 'I have to start to plan for what comes next.' 

"People always said there will come a time when you just know, and I didn't know what they meant. But when the time came, I did know. 

"I made the unusual decision to announce my retirement before I played out my final season. The reason for that was I was able to go round the tour I'd been on for 20 years and sort of say 'thank you' to people."