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Inverurie Locos legend Neil McLean to retire at the end of the season

Inverurie Locos legend Neil McLean is to retire at the end of this season
Inverurie Locos legend Neil McLean is to retire at the end of this season

Inverurie Locos captain Neil McLean is to retire at the end of the season – but looks back fondly on his distinguished career at Harlaw Park.

The 40-year-old has made 556 appearances, scored 92 goals and won seven trophies across 18 seasons with the Railwaymen, but will hang up his boots at the end of this term.

Looking back on his career, midfielder McLean said: “It’s the people you meet and the friendships you make, the opponents you play against that stand out for me.

“It’s always the relationships you forge which stand out. When you’re winning trophies, Inverurie’s a great place to be and you take away those memories along with the medals from those successes.

“It’s the team-mates who become friends and the friends you make at different clubs which mean a lot to me.

Neil McLean, left, in action for Inverurie Locos

“I think it’s the right time (to retire), I’ve been thinking about it for a few years.

“But when Covid came along, I didn’t want to retire away from the pitch. I wanted to have the opportunity to finish on the pitch.

“This feels like the right time for me, I’ve had an injury which has taken it’s toll and, with the youngers guys coming through, it’s the right time for me with where I am in my life.”

Highs and lows

With Locos, McLean has won the GPH Builders Merchants Highland League Cup twice, the Morrison Motors (Turriff) Aberdeenshire Shield twice, the Qualifying Cup twice and the SFA North Region Challenge Cup once.

But the closest he came to winning the Breedon Highland League was second place finishes in 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2014.

McLean added: “The big one everyone wants to win is the league, but there are better players than me that haven’t won the league.

“You don’t have any divine right to win it and unfortunately at Locos we were the bridesmaids a few times.”

International pride

McLean also played for Elgin City and Forfar Athletic, as well as playing for Scotland schoolboys and the Scotland Semi-Professional side during his career.

He said: “If you get the chance to represent your country at any level you take great pride of that.

“Being in the schoolboy squad was wonderful at the time and then with Locos I had the chance to represent Scotland at semi-professional level and got to captain the side as well.

“That was another great part of playing – there’s no higher honour in football than doing that.”

Inverurie have three games left this term, but their final home fixture is this Saturday against Wick Academy (2pm kick-off).

McLean said: “I’m sure I will be emotional for me and my family.

“The club has been good to me and I’ve been good to the club and it’s been a big part of my life.”

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