It has been confirmed this morning that Bolton Wanderers defender Stephen Darby has been forced to retire aged 29 after being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.
The former Bradford City full-back, who hasn’t played since December, will now spend time with his family and wife and England player Steph Houghton.
Bolton Wanderers defender Stephen Darby has sadly been forced to retire from football after being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.
— Bolton Wanderers FC (@OfficialBWFC) September 18, 2018
Stephen Darby said: “It is with great sadness that I announce my immediate retirement from professional football due to a recent diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease.
“I would like to take the opportunity to thank my team-mates, Phil Parkinson and all the staff at Bolton Wanderers Football Club for their amazing support at what has been an extremely difficult period for myself and my family.
“I would like to ask for privacy at this time so I can adjust to the battle I have ahead and so that I can spend time with those closest to me.”
Bolton boss Phil Parkinson said: “This is heart breaking news for Stephen and his family and the thoughts of everybody at Bolton Wanderers Football Club are very much with him and Steph.
“He is an outstanding professional and a fantastic person.
“He was simply magnificent during his time at Bradford and was a key figure in the resurgence of Bradford City as a football club.
“He typified everything the city and the football club represented and led by example on and off the pitch.
“The Bolton Wanderers fans didn’t see the best of him due to limited first team opportunities, but I can assure everyone that he made a significant contribution in last year’s survival.
“He constantly set high standards in training every day and encouraged and drove his fellow teammates on.
“All the staff and players at Bolton Wanderers Football Club think the world of him and are determined to give him every possible bit of support.”
Darby has represented England at under-19 level. He was part of the Bradford team that famously reached the 2013 Football League Cup Final.
In his career, he also played for Liverpool, Swindon Town, Notts County, Rochdale and Bolton Wanderers.
Football supporters and clubs have paid their thoughts and respects to Stephen Darby – check out those tweets on the next page.