Bolton defender Stephen Darby has announced his retirement, aged 29, after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease.
The right-back, who began his career at his hometown club Liverpool, received the diagnosis from a specialist recently.
He joined Bolton in the summer of 2017 but has not played since December.
“It is with great sadness that I announce my immediate retirement from professional football due to a recent diagnosis of Motor Neurone Disease,” said Darby in a statement released by the club.
“I would like to take the opportunity to thank my teammates, 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.”
While at Liverpool, Darby had loan spells with Swindon, Notts County and Rochdale before joining Bradford, where he spent two seasons as club captain under current Bolton boss Parkinson.
“This is heartbreaking news for Stephen and his family,” said Parkinson. “He is an outstanding professional and a fantastic person.
“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.”
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