ATHLETIC goalkeeper Sean Murdoch has announced that he will retire at the end of the season to become a referee.

The popular 32-year-old, who has not played due to injury since December 2017, posted his decision on social media yesterday (Sunday).

Murdoch, who is in his second spell as a Dunfermline player, said that he made his decision around a month ago but admitted it was one that "wasn't taken lightly".

Since his last appearance, a 2-1 win over Brechin City at East End Park, Murdoch has been plagued by injury problems since suffering an inflammation of the pubic bone.

Although he told Press Sport in February that he was hopeful of returning before the end of the season Murdoch, whose contract runs out at the end of next month, has decided that his future lies outwith playing.

"As many know, I have been injured for a period, consisting around 15 months," he said.

"Luckily for me and with thanks to Dunfermline FC, I am fully fit, healthy and have been for the past few weeks.

"Injuries can be quite challenging at times but with the right club, family, friends and team-mates, then any challenge that awaits you can be diminished quite quickly.

"I came to my decision around one month ago and informed the manager, who has been very supportive, that I would be retiring from football at the end of the current season and don't want to be considered for next season.

"After being a professional footballer for more than half my life the decision wasn't taken lightly."

He continued: "While I am retiring from playing football, I have been a qualified official since I was 21-years-old building my way up through the ranks over the years, and going as high as Cat3D in season 2013/14.

"Unfortunately, back then I couldn't progress any higher while there would be a clear conflict of interest with playing and refereeing.

"With a clear desire to become an official, I am happy to say I will be going straight back in to officiating as early as next season, where the SFA and Glasgow Referee Association have been very supportive towards me.

"We have some fantastic officials in this country, and I am thoroughly looking forward to the challenge on working hard and trying to reach the very top!

"Thank you to all the clubs I played with, to all the friends I have met, and I wish every person the best of luck with their lives."

After joining Dunfermline's youth set-up in 2003, Murdoch had loan spells with Forfar Athletic and Hamilton Accies before making his first-team debut as a substitute in a 1-1 draw with BK Hacken in the first leg of a UEFA Cup tie.

He left to join Accies on a permanent basis the following year, where he stayed for three years before joining Accrington Stanley.

After one season in Lancashire, Murdoch returned to his native Edinburgh to sign for Hibernian, but left Easter Road in 2014 to move to the United States with Rochester Rhinos.

In the summer of 2015, the then newly appointed Pars boss Allan Johnston swooped to bring him back to East End, and Murdoch was a virtual ever-present as they romped to the League One title.

He remained first choice for the next season and a half, claiming a club record for the most minutes played without conceding a goal in the process, until suffering injury.

Dunfermline finish their Championship campaign this weekend at Inverness.