ALLOA ATHLETIC was rocked by the news of talisman Iain Flannigan’s retirement at just the age of 32 last week. 

The enigmatic midfielder called time on his career after seven seasons in Clacks where he became an integral piece of the Wasps’ jigsaw. 

Signed by Paul Hartley in the summer of 2013, Flannigan took some time to get going at the Recs due to injury but in recent seasons has excelled. 

READ MORE: Iain Flannigan retires: Alloa's 'JFK moment' as an infectious talent is taken away too soon

A member of promotion winning teams in 2015 and 2018, he was held in high regard by those in Clacks and beyond.

As fans and team-mates still come to terms with the news, Advertiser Sport spoke to those who knew him best as we pay tribute to Flanny. 

Kevin Cawley 

Strathallan Times:

“I knew Flanny from playing against him when we were teenagers. My best mate played in his team, so we have known each other since we were like 16 or 17.

“He stayed full-time and then we crossed paths when he came to Alloa. I knew he had back problems and I think when he first came in he still had a couple of niggles in his back.

“A year or two he flourished and came back into his own. Even during the last season he has been one of our best players.

“When he phoned me on Tuesday night to tell me the news we were just having a normal chat and then he said ‘yeah, I am finishing’. I couldn’t believe it and thought maybe he was going to another club.

“Flanny is his own man and he has his reason which I respect. He will be a massive loss to the team.

“He was in his prime and he just said he felt like it was the right time. You never know; he could miss it when the season is back up and running and he might find the urge to get the boots back on.

“It’s Flanny and I have travelled with him all these years. He’s a rare man and he’s his own kind.

Strathallan Times:

“Flanny is up there and perhaps the best I played with at Alloa. He was a consistent player, very technically good on the ball, and can control games, which is very rare in the Championship.

“He was a master at set-pieces and I think a few of us will now be trying to brush up on our free kicks during the next few months.

“He was a nightmare and was always late! Flanny would be late to his own funeral. He was brutal for his time keeping. 

“He stays five, ten minutes away from me in Glasgow and he was never on time. I don’t think once in the time. But he is a brilliant guy.” 

Andy Graham 

Strathallan Times:

“I’ve played with Flanny for a while now after first meeting him at Morton and you can see the qualities he brought to the pitch. 

“In my opinion, it is such a waste and I told him that. He’s got so much ability and talent. To go from where he wasn’t playing so much at Alloa because of injuries and the like to then be playing every single game where was available was testament. 

“He was such an integral part of the team and he knows I will never ever understand it; but he’s alright with that.

“It’s a huge blow to us as a team because he was so integral to the way we played in terms of being able to pass the ball out from the back. You have to respect it, though, and it was his decision.

“A lot of footballers have gone out at the top and not just tried to hang until they are no longer able to make it.

“It’s one you haven’t planned for. We all know Kevin O’Hara wants to go full-time and so we know we are planning for the chance he will do so.

“With Flanny and his job there was never any chance of that happening or a thought he would go full-time. Ability-wise? Of course he could. 

“To then lose him to retirement is a blow but you have to respect his decision and just applaud the efforts he gave to the club.

“You could put him anywhere and he would play well.

“You could give him the ball and that was very handy as a defender. You knew when you have him it the ball was going to be safe. 

Strathallan Times: Flanny during his early Alloa days Flanny during his early Alloa days

“I even liked it when he played on the left under Jack Ross as I was playing left centre half that season and we had a brilliant connection.

“He would always come into the park and into wee pockets and it made my job brilliant. It’s that cleverness of thought he brought to the team.

“He’s one of the most laid back people I have ever played with and you would never see him getting riled up about anything. You need that balance in a team.

“I always joked he shouldn’t have been vice-captain as he hated going out first. Whenever I was playing, he would always be last. He would always be last out. 

“I would be at the front and waiting in the tunnel and the referee would always ask me what’s happening. I’d always tell him we were waiting on Flanny.

“He’d then stroll out last and do his hair, making sure he looked a million dollars before going out. He’d do that wherever we were playing.”

Neil Parry 

Strathallan Times: Neil Parry was on form once again for Alloa on Saturday. Picture by John Howie

“I travelled with Flanny and I’ve still not recovered from the news. We are really close friends and I was pretty devastated.

“More from a selfish point of view to be losing a good friend and guy from the dressing room. He’s one in a million in the sense of how he conducts himself.

“He’s a good guy and a brilliant footballer. It’s a huge loss off the pitch and on it and that’s been a hard one to take.

“He spoke to me earlier in the week and let me know. I was as shocked as anyone and didn’t see it coming. It’s certainly not injuries and he’s as fit as he’s ever been.

“It’s a credit to him that he himself thinks it’s time to hang up the boots and he has other priorities in his life he wants to focus on.

“Ability-wise he is probably the best player in that dressing room and one of the best I have played with. 

“You’d see him coming out of his car holding his coffee and he’d always be immaculately dressed. 

READ MORE: Ex-Partick Thistle star Iain Flannigan insists his decision to move to Alloa Athletic was a no-brainer

“I used to have some laugh with him in the car and we always got on really well. He made those trips up when you’d maybe had a hard day in work so much easier. 

“He could just make you immediately have a laugh with the boys and he helped to perk you up.

“He’s not your stereotypical footballer and doesn’t seek any attention at all. He’s not on any social media and nothing like that. 

“He’s a throwback and it really is a tough one to lose. He’s someone I will be friends with for a long, long time. 

“I saw him dominate games and he would just get on the ball and never be flustered.

“I know he will only ever speak well of Alloa. He was up there with the best in the league and could have easily played full-time if he wanted to.” 

Stevie Hetherington 

Strathallan Times:

“My first impression of Flanny was how welcome he made me. I briefly travelled in with him and got to speak to him more than the rest of the team.

“He was so approachable and I even see it now with the new lads who come in. Flanny is a really nice lad and he will speak to anyone.

“From a playing point of view, you could see how good he was straightaway and he’s one of those I didn’t think I would be able to play with for so long; in a good way.

“You always thought he might move on.

“When he plays you can see why he’s held in such a high regard. Over the six years, I have gotten to know him as a mate and he’s definitely one of the best players I have ever played with. Not just at Alloa, but in my full career. 

“It was a bit of a shock, I am not going to lie. He sent me a text to tell me about it. He wanted me to hear from him before it came out anywhere else and that’s good of him. 

“It sums up what kind of guy he is and he wanted to speak to the lads he has played with first. I was just watching telly and got a text off Flanny. 

“He is a quiet guy and doesn’t really speak much in the group chat and as soon as I seen his name I knew it was something serious. 

“It took me two or three reads to register what it said. It was not like he was hanging on and couldn’t complete games. 

Strathallan Times:

“He was constant and in the last few years he was the fittest I have seen him. He was one of our main players. 

“If it’s what he thinks is right for him, then absolutely fair enough and you respect that.

“He’s one of those from the changing room point of view where he’s a talker on the field and not one to come in and ball and shout before a game. 

“He does his talking on the pitch. From a selfish point of view, I’ll miss playing in a midfield with him. We suited each others’ game. He drifted around the pitch doing what he wanted and I did the other side.”