Take The Stage x Joe Thompson

by Johanna Roelich

Many of you may know the incredible and inspiring story of former midfielder Joe Thompson. For those of you don’t, we are here to share it. Delve into a true inspirational story of where bravery and passion overcomes the unimaginable. This is our Take The Stage campaign with legend, Joe Thompson.

Joe started his football career at the age of nine when he was signed by Manchester United where he spent six years. Every young boys dream. At the age of 16 he was released due to his fitness levels not meeting the standard needed to progress. Although this knocked Thompson back as he stated “I felt like I was stripped of my identity, I felt lost and quite embarrassed” he then went on to play for his boyhood hometown of Rochdale, which became a milestone in his career.

Devastatingly, in 2013 Joe was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma which is a rare form cancer of the immune system, which forced him to put his love and passion for the sport on hold. After beating the disease, he found a new career playing for Tranmere Rovers followed by Bury.

In March 2017, Joe beat cancer for a second time, and most feared he would never take to the field again, but most have clearly never met the man and had no idea of his incredible fighting spirit. He not only got back on the pitch, but achieved his dreams – one of playing at Wembley for Rochdale against Tottenham in the FA Cup, and two coming off the bench scoring the goal that saved the League One club from relegation on the final day of the 2017/18 season. For Rochdale fans, his dedication, skill and passion will never be forgotten.

The 29-year-old played 203 games for Dale in total and said he had “pushed his body to the absolute limit”. A true inspirational story of where bravery and passion overcomes the unimaginable.

In 2019, Joe made the hardest decision of his life and retired from professional football for good.

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