​Gary Cahill used the ​Chelsea programme notes to send an emotional message to Ryan Mason before the Blues' clash with the retired midfielder's former club ​Hull City.

Mason prematurely ​closed the curtain on his promising footballing career this week after a severe clash of heads with Cahill left him fighting for his life when the two sides met in January last year.

At the age of just 26, Mason was sadly never able to recover fully from the injury and an outpouring of support for the former ​Spurs midfielder was reciprocated by the Chelsea captain in his programme column.

Cahill's message read: "We come into a fifth round FA Cup tie against Hull on the back of a good result against ​West Brom on Monday, but I don't want to speak too much about the game in my notes tonight because there is something more important on my mind as I write this.

Chelsea v Hull City - Premier League

"I was devastated to hear that Ryan Mason has retired from professional football this week, I can't even imagine what he's feeling and going through, having to retire at such a young age, and when I heard the news it was heartbreaking.

"Ryan is a lovely guy. I've met him and trained alongside him with England, and it's a horrible situation. I've got a son and a beautiful fiancee around me, so these are the sort of things that mean more to you than football when things are put into perspective.

"Challenging for the ball in the air is such a common thing and you never expect consequences like this to come from it. That is when football goes totally out of your thoughts and it becomes about making the best decision for your health.

"I want to spend my best wishes to Ryan and his family. The most important thing in life is your health, and I am sure he will now go on to be successful in whatever he chooses to do next."

Chelsea went on to beat Hull 4-0 in their FA Cup Fourth Round tie but the scoreline was just a byproduct of a touching night for the footballing community.