LONDON // The Fulham goalkeeper Antti Niemi has been forced to retire from professional football today after failing to recover from a wrist injury. "My plan was always to finish my career after this contract, which runs out next summer," the Finland international told Fulham's official website. "Due to my wrist injury it would be another two months before I could start training again. I asked the club for their views. I was very grateful that they understood where I was coming from and thankfully we settled the contract so that the club would gain something and I would be happy with the terms."
Niemi, 36, who made 67 appearances for Finland, began his career with FC Copenhagen before joining Rangers in 1997. He made only 13 appearances for the Glasgow club and was loaned to Charlton before he joined Hearts. He moved to Southampton in 2002 and made history a year later when he became the first goalkeeper ever to be substituted during an FA Cup final, replaced by Paul Jones after injuring his ankle.
Niemi joined Fulham in January 2006 and made 64 appearances for the Cottagers, but after an initially successful operation in June, Niemi re-injured his wrist. *AP