Dave Seddon's Preston North End Press View: Declan Rudd's early retirement is cruel luck for a talented goalkeeper

It was on a wet midweek afternoon that Preston North End and Declan Rudd were first introduced.

By Dave Seddon
Friday, 1st April 2022, 4:45 pm

Rudd’s arrival on loan from Norwich City was announced a few hours before the Lilywhites were due to face Crawley Town in January 2013, a game which was postponed 90 minutes or so before kick-off.

He was yet another new face in a season when signings were commonplace and news of a young lad from East Anglia pitching-up didn’t register too high on the excitement level.

Rudd was to stand the test of time though and play a big part at Deepdale, pulling on the North End goalkeeper’s jersey 196 times – his debut on the night of Graham Westley’s last stand as Preston boss.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Preston North End goalkeeper Declan Rudd warms up before the pre-season friendly match against Celtic at Celtic Park RESTRICTIONS: Use subject to restrictions. Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

Hence the deep sense of sadness felt by the PNE faithful and the amount of good wishes sent his way when Rudd’s retirement from football was announced on Thursday morning.

Injury brought his career to an end at the age of 31, a number of years short of how long it should have lasted.

The Lilywhites have lost a talented keeper and football has lost a good servant – not to mention n a terrific bloke.

Read More

Read More
Preston North End boss leads the tributes to keeper Declan Rudd who has been for...
Declan Rudd in the warm-up ahead of his Preston North End debut at Yeovil in February 2013

Rudd looks a bit different to your average player having let his beard and hair grow in the last couple of years but there is no disguising the talent he had in those gloves.

He’s played in the Premier League, Championship and League One, tallying-up 267 first-team appearances in the colours of PNE, Norwich City and Charlton Athletic.

There should have been many more added in the seasons beyond but an injury suffered in training in January last year was the beginning of the end for Rudd.

As he went through a drill towards the end of a session, his foot caught in the ground, he twisted his knee and that dislodged the cartilage from its normal home.

Preston North End goalkeeper Declan Rudd saves a penalty against his former club Norwich City

The cartilage pushed into the back of his kneecap, causing excruciating pain and significant damage to the knee joint.

A year ago, Rudd told of the experience in an interview with the Lancashire Post. He was on the road of recovery from surgery at the time, or he hoped he was.

Rudd said: “The pain was so bad that I was on liquid morphine for the next six weeks – heavy duty stuff.

“The way I would describe it is a freak accident. The cartilage sits between two bones but completely came out. The surgeon had to move it back, clean it up and settle the knee down.”

Rudd was to play again, he was back in action during pre-season and started the opening day of the season clash with Hull City ahead of Daniel Iversen who had only just returned on loan from Leicester.

Typical of Rudd’s luck of late, he got a bang on the head early in the game. He had come out of his box to clear from a Hull player who was through on goal.

Only the Hull boy was offside, the assistant having to delay raising his flag until he became active in accordance with one of football’s dafter rules.

That was a bit of PNE history in the making and probably EFL history too, the first concussion substitution made – both teams were allowed to make four changes instead of three.

Rudd came back after concussion protocol, starting three Carabao Cup games and sitting on the bench for Championship games.

Little did we realise that the fourth-round tie against Liverpool in front of a capacity crowd in October was to be his last competitive slice of action.

He pulled out of the squad during the pre-match warm-up at Bournemouth on November 3 and was to have surgery on his knee a second time.

A third operation followed before Christmas, things were clearly not right.

Rudd has been back in Norfolk with his family for the last few months as it became apparent he was fighting a losing battle with the injury.

In Thursday’s announcement, he spoke of coming to terms with no more football but admitted it had yet to fully sink in.

He gave his best years to North End, his form after breaking into the team after that initial move on loan, persuading PNE to bring him back that summer for the whole of the 2013/14 season.

Norwich weren’t for letting him out again in 2014/15, then in 2015/16 he made 11 Premier League appearances for the Canaries.

Rudd spent the 2016/17 season on loan at Charlton, his Deepdale return coming in June 2017 when Preston paid around £900,000 for his services.

There were match-winning performances from him, the occasional clanger too – Birmingham away in December 2018 springs to mind.

He bounced back from allowing a long-range shot to bounce under him at St Andrew’s by keeping a clean sheet the next week at Nottingham Forest.

There had been a moment of comedy almost involving him a month before that when Rudd was on the bench for PNE’s meeting with Ipswich at Portman Road.

When Chris Maxwell was sent-off, Rudd started to get ready to come on. Only North End had made all three subs, so Paul Gallagher had to put the gloves on and what a 20 minutes the midfielder had between the sticks!

After Rudd was injured15 months ago, North End secured themselves the most talented of replacements in Iversen. But let’s not lose sight of the fact of how good a goalkeeper Rudd was.

He’s back at Deepdale for the Blackpool game on Tuesday to say goodbye in person. The ovation he’ll get will be fitting. Rudd was in the PNE side for the League Cup win over Blackpool on that August night in 2013 – a repeat would be most welcome.

Thanks for the memories Dec, best of luck with what comes next.