Home Where Keith's Heart Is
- Marino Keith`s Career: A Retrospective -
"Marino will give us a bit of honesty, with a good work-rate, character and experience to help our younger players." - Former boss, Phil Parkinson on the signing Keith from Plymouth in March 2005, as a replacement for Craig Fagan.
Odds are, at an eye-opening fifty-to-one, that a professional footballer will have as much chance of succumbing to a career-ending injury as falling victim of a violent crime over the course of a year.
But when Colchester's Marino Keith was forced to announce his retirement from the game last week, ending a long battle with an enduring achilles injury, the 32-year old Scot was philosophical about the idea of becoming part of yet another grim statistic.
Especially since, a decade earlier, he had already beaten it once: "I got a serious injury at Livingston and was told I would never play again.
"I`m in my early thirties and many good memories, so I can only imagine how hard it would have been to give it up in my early twenties before I had really got started," he told Colchester United`s media department.
Marino was told he might have to call it a day once already during his spell in football, but defied the advice of specialists to continue playing, fledging out a successful twelve-year career, starting at Dumbarton and Livingston in his home country.
The amiable striker then moved south to play for Plymouth, and later Colchester. He joined United as Craig Fagan`s replacement in 2005.
Just twelve starts - and two years - later, Keith has had to admit defeat: "Unfortunately, the injury has beaten me," he said.
"I have been going through a terrible time and it has got to the stage where it is probably a big relief to me and my family that we have finally made the decision."
Keith is now looking forward to going back to his native Scotland, where he will apply some newfound skills in the field of IT - he has just completed a degree. So much for the idea that football`s wages always pave the way to endless streams of gold.
For Marino, at any rate, it was never about the money. More the memories: "Although I`ve had a severe blow to have to finish, I`ve had a fair bit of success in what turned out to be a longer carer than I ever could have hoped for."
The former Scottish League Cup winner has been a part of teams that have won three League titles, and four promotions.
He rates the best goal of his career as one he netted shortly before he arrived in North Essex: "I scored against Exeter when the ground was pretty much full because it was a local derby.
"Home Park had just had the new stands finished and over 20,000 people were there. I hit a curler into the top corner from well outside the penalty area and the noise was just unbelievable."
On the future, he explained his wish to continue playing in some capacity, in spite of the injury, before adding, "We are relocating back to Scotland and really looking forward to where both our families are."
From heroics at Home Park, to returning to his mother country North of the boarder, Marino knows where his heart is - even if the Scot has been forced to leave a part of his soul behind, forever donating to the worthy cause of professional football.
- Quotations kindly supplied by the Colchester United media department.