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Ex-Liverpool defender retires at 29 after motor neurone disease diagnosis

Stephen Darby has not played since December, and today released a statement announcing his retirement.

BOLTON WANDERERS DEFENDER Stephen Darby has been forced to retire aged 29 after being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.

The former Liverpool youth academy product joined Bolton from Bradford City ahead of the 2017/18 season, making three Championship appearances last season.

Shrewsbury Town v Bradford City - Sky Bet Football League One Stephen Darby. Source: Catherine Ivill - AMA

He hasn’t played since December and having recently being diagnosed with the illness by a specialist, announced the news of his retirement today.

“It is with great sadness that I announce my immediate retirement from professional football due to a recent diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease,” Darby said via Bolton’s official website.

“I would like to take the opportunity to thank my team-mates, [manager] 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.”

After coming through the Liverpool academy, Darby made his first competitive appearance for the Reds as a substitute in a Champions League clash with PSV Eindhoven in December 2008.

Darby went on to have loan spells with Swindon Town, Notts County and Rochdale before moving to Bradford City in 2012, where he made 236 appearances.

The right-back moved to Bolton in June 2017 where he was reunited with former Bradford manager Parkinson.

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Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Group E - Liverpool v Fiorentina - Anfield The defender made his Liverpool debut in the Champions League back in 2008. Source: EMPICS Sport

“This is heartbreaking news for Stephen and his family and the thoughts of everybody at Bolton Wanderers Football Club are very much with him and Steph,” Parkinson said.

“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.

“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.” 

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Ryan Bailey

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