Charlton legend Johnnie Jackson admits retiring will be the hardest thing he’s ever done.

The Addicks captain will hang up his boots at the end of the season to take up a full-time first-team coaching role at the Valley.

Jackson, 35, has been a player-coach this term helping boss Karl Robinson on and off the pitch.

The midfielder told News Shopper: “It was decided that this would be my last playing season when I triggered my playing deal last year.

“I spoke to the club and we got together and said ‘should we do something longer term with this year and next year in mind?’ but to make this my last year playing and next year I’d be on the coaching staff full-time. It was a mutual decision.

“Obviously the gaffer has given me that, it would be his say, he’s the one that extended the offer. I was happy to accept it.

“Stopping playing is tough, I love playing football, I always have done. To continue playing I’d have to leave Charlton and it’s something I’ve never wanted to do - I want to end my playing career here.

“To be given the opportunity of going straight into a coaching role is something I couldn't turn down. Even though the lure of playing is always there, a lot of people tell you ‘play for as long as you can’.

“But it’s not every day you're given the opportunity to walk straight into a coaching role at a club you love and have been at for years. So in that respect it was a no-brainer.”

Jackson has scored 51 league goals for Charlton since joining from Notts County in 2010. He captained the side to the Championship and played a huge role in their four-year stay in England’s second tier. 

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The former Tottenham trainee has been working alongside Robinson and assistant manager Lee Bowyer as part of Charlton’s management team. And while he has been carrying out first-team duties as a coach, he’s made 17 appearances as a player this season.

He has just five matches left at the Valley before his career comes to an end.

Jackson said: “It [retiring] will be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But you have to deal with that.

“I read a few quotes from Michael Carrick saying it has to come to an end. We all love playing. He’s at a club [Manchester United] and they've given him an opportunity to coach there - it’s the same with me.

“I’ve been given the opportunity to coach at a club I love. It could be the hardest thing ever to stop playing but I know it’s something I need to do and I want to do.

“It’s been a great year for me, the transition, but to really kick on and become the coach I want to be, I’ve got to fully immerse myself into it. You can’t quite do that when you're juggling the two.

“It’s been a great year for me but next year all my focus will be on becoming as good a coach as I can possibly be.”

News Shopper:

Johnnie Jackson | Picture: Kyle Andrews

Jackson was in charge of light training sessions towards the end of last season before being appointed a player-coach in July.

He is learning his trade at the moment, but has aspirations to be a manager one day.

When asked why he wanted to move into coaching, Jackson said: “Just the love of the game, really. When you’re younger, you don't really think about the game too much, you just train, play and go home.

“But the older you get, you start thinking about the game more in-depth and what you'd do in certain situations. You're looking at your manager you work with a lot more closely than before, what’s good, what’s bad, trying to build your own picture of things.

“Becoming captain here, you almost become a little bit of a coach when you’re given the responsibility in that role. It helped really mould my thoughts towards becoming a coach and hopefully a manager one day.

“But ultimately it comes down to my love of football, you can’t play forever. You either step away or look for another role within it. It just seems like a natural fit for me.

“It comes to me quite naturally, I like to think I’m quite good at it. I’ve got lots to learn, I’m just a rookie. I enjoy the challenge of learning and I want to get better. So the fact I’m having those thoughts means it’s certainly something I should pursue.”

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