Following Reading's relegation to League One, Shane Long has made it clear this week that he is strongly considering retiring from professional football.
Speaking to BBC about playing next season, he said: "I doubt it. I’m going to speak to my family, but in my head, I think enough is enough. I’m 37 next January. We’ll see.
"I’m going to spend time with my family over the summer and weigh up the pros and cons after that. I feel good, my body does feel good, but I suppose the older you get, the more it’s about recovery and getting your body going again."
It's not confirmed, and for all we know, Long has been inundated with offers looking for his experience next year.
But if it is to be the end for the Tipperary man, he should bow out from football with his head held high, after one of the great modern Irish sporting careers.
Cynics will point out that Long was never as clinical in front of goal as he should have been. That he was wasteful in the danger area, and never had that cutting edge. And that's true.
But there is a reason he has played at the top level for so long. He has something that a lot of players don't.
Long wasn't playing all that much last season, but former Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl summed up perfectly why he was important to have around the dressing room.
Ralph Hasenhuttl on Shane Long
He said: "Longy's a very, very important player for our team: he's fantastic in the dressing room, and we're very happy for him.
"It's very simple: he's a super-professional guy who works hard in every session.
"He's always positive, and he's not always had an easy time, not playing, waiting for his chance. Then in the cup he showed how important he is for this team.
"So it's absolutely fantastic to have him on the bench, because he's always ready when he's needed and I know I can trust him.
"I think he knows very well what role he has to play now at this age. He's a role model for how you should act. This is the reason why we decided to extend his contract two years ago.
"I knew he was an important player in every moment, calm when not playing and supporting the lads, but also there when you need him. And that's what you need from an experienced player."
82': Subbed on ⤴️
83': Scores with first touch ⚽️
An instant impact from @ShaneLong7: pic.twitter.com/sWiDlah80u
— Southampton FC (@SouthamptonFC) February 19, 2022
On and off the pitch, Long was a hard worker. He may not have tested the goalkeeper as much as he could have, but he damn sure let defenders know they were in a game against him.
He would run until he physically couldn't any more, and that's the reason he has been in and around the top flight for so long.
In what was an era of Irish football that saw the country struggle to produce quality players, Long being a Premier League footballer for 10 years shows how valuable he was.
Add that to his 17 goals in 88 games for Ireland and you start to realise that this was a player who probably never really got the credit he deserved.
Shane Long to be remembered as an Irish great
Often in life and in football, the hardest workers go unnoticed. They never get their moment in the sun to be celebrated. They slog along, putting in the hard yards, so that others can reap the benefits.
But that's not the case for Shane Long. He got his big chance, to be remembered forever, and he took it.
7 years to the day that the Germans got Shane Long'ed.
What a night that waspic.twitter.com/89fvgDnrPi
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) October 8, 2022
A moment, and a player, that the country will never forget.