Torquay United defender Ryan Higgins has been forced to retire from football due to a heart condition.
The former Everton prospect has not played for the National League outfit since undergoing medical tests last November.
In a statement issued via the club's website, Higgins described the situation as "heartbreaking".
"I was actually at training here in Torquay when I received a call from my family to say my sister had been taken into hospital," he said. "I had a few weeks away with my family in what was a very worrying time for all of us.
"I did briefly return to football but, after further investigation, the doctors informed us that my sister's condition was hereditary and all of us in the family would need to undergo tests.
"It has been a long and difficult process, and we received the worst possible news last week, which confirmed I would have to retire from the game."
The defender went on to thank the club for their support and wish them success in the future.
"I would like to thank the Torquay United players, staff and supporters for the encouragement they have given me over my time at the club," he added.
"It was very tough breaking this news to the players today but they are a terrific bunch of lads, and I wish the football club every success for the future."
Higgins made 18 appearances for Torquay since joining the club last summer.