A FORMER professional footballer whose career was cut short through injury will graduate with honours from York St John University this week.

Tom Wilkinson, 25, played for Lincoln City in 2006, until a persistent knee injury forced him to withdraw from the team.

After he received physiotherapy for his injury, Tom decided to pursue a career in the profession, and his ambition was made possible by funding from the Professional Footballer’s Association.

Tom said: “I have had the time of my life at York St John University. As a small close-knit community, students get plenty of support for both practical and written work.

“Placements are varied to ensure each student gains the essential skills in the key areas of physiotherapy.

“I hope to get back into football at some point, but in the meantime I am enjoying my career as a physiotherapist at the hospital.”

For the last three years, the Professional Footballers’ Association has funded five ex-professional or academy players a year through their studies at York St John, and Tom is the first to have his degree funded in full by the association.

Jill Wickham, continuing professional development co-ordinator at York St John, said: “The PFA partnership adds diversity to the undergraduate population.

“Although from a football background, the students are encouraged to see physiotherapy as a wide and varied profession. Tom discovered his interest to be with people receiving treatment in the acute hospital setting and achieved this goal.”

Tom, who now lives in his home town of Lincoln and works as a physiotherapist at Lincoln County Hospital for the United Lincolnshire hospitals NHS trust, will graduate with thousands of other students at a ceremony at York Minster on Friday.