Bolton defender Darby retires after Motor Neurone Disease diagnosis

The defender has announced that he has been forced to call time on his career at the age of 29 after being diagnosed with the illness

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 2017-18, making three Championship appearances last season.

Darby, who married Manchester City and England defender Steph Houghton in June, announced the news of his retirement on Tuesday, after being diagnosed with the illness by a specialist.

"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."

Parkinson, who worked with Darby at Bradford, added: "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.

"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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