Bolton defender Stephen Darby has been forced to retire from professional football at the age of 29 after he was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.
Darby, who joined Bolton in the summer of 2017,
"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 via Bolton's official website.
"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."
Darby began his career at Liverpool, winning the FA Youth Cup in 2006 and 2007 before making his senior debut in 2008 against PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League, and his Premier League debut in January 2010.
Liverpool Football Club are saddened by the news of Stephen Darby’s retirement after he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease.— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 18, 2018
The thoughts of everyone at the club are with Stephen and his family at this time. pic.twitter.com/yYVTrXZMcB
He spent time on loan at Swindon, Notts County and Rochdale before joining Bradford. He made over 230 appearances for the Bantams and was appointed club captain by manager
Parkinson then brought him to the University of Bolton Stadium last year, where he made his final appearance in May 2018.
Tributes for Darby have been pouring in from around the footballing community.
Our thoughts are with Stephen Darby who has announced his retirement from football after recently being diagnosed with Motor Neurone disease.— PFA (@PFA) September 18, 2018
We are here to offer our full support and guidance to Stephen and his family.
More info: https://t.co/A2srRUrsiP pic.twitter.com/cgW2jZoURI
My mate! I sat next to at @officialbantams and @OfficialBWFC I can’t believe this has happened to him I’m truly devastated. The ultimate pro, improved me as a player and more importantly as a person. A real genuine leader, who always puts others before himself. I’m broken— Filipe Morais (@moraisfilipe20) September 18, 2018
Just finished training to read the terrible news about Stephen Darby. Played with Darbs for a bit at Rochdale , he was a top professional and a great guy most of all. My best wishes are with him and his family going forward.🙌— Kevin Long (@kevinlong28) September 18, 2018
🔵 Everyone at Rochdale Football Club is saddened to hear that former Dale loanee Stephen Darby has been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. We would like to send our best wishes to Stephen and his family 💙 #RAFC https://t.co/LXyei0zjGl— Rochdale AFC (@officiallydale) September 18, 2018
I’m Devastated With Darbs’ Diagnosis - One Of My Best Mates & One Of The Nicest Lads I've Ever Met. We've Shared So Many Good Times On & Off The Pitch. I'll Support Him, Steph And His Family As They Begin This Battle... I’m With You All The Way mate ❤ pic.twitter.com/O5PM0zzVDb— Jay Spearing (@Jay8Spearing) September 18, 2018
Absolutely devastating news, one of the most genuine people I’ve met in football. Sending my best wishes to Darbs❤️— Oli McBurnie (@oli_mcburnie) September 18, 2018
Heartbreaking news about my former team mate Stephen Darby who has been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. Life is so cruel, genuinely one of the nicest lads you could ever meet. We… https://t.co/nlivMxElHK— Stephen Warnock (@StephenWarnock3) September 18, 2018
I don’t know Stephen Darby but I just want to send out some best wishes & support to him after his retirement & diagnosis. MND is a devastating illness & I really hope he has everything he needs to fight it with courage & strength. My thoughts today are with him & his family.— Bianca Westwood (@beewestwood) September 18, 2018
My very best wishes to Stephen Darby and his family, sad to hear the news today. Remember Stephen from his early days, great lad with such a strong attitude. YNWA— David Fairclough (@DFairclough12) September 18, 2018
Everyone at #STFC is devastated to hear of Stephen Darby's diagnosis with Motor Neurone Disease.— Swindon Town FC (@Official_STFC) September 18, 2018
Along with the rest of the #FootballFamily, we send our best wishes to Stephen and his family.
He provided us with one very special moment in particular. #STFC 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/68STxLUJ5x
🙌 | We will be offering full support to former @officialbantams star Stephen Darby, who today announced his retirement from professional football after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease.— Bradford City (@officialbantams) September 18, 2018
➡️ READ here: https://t.co/WEw6JKyurq#BCAFC pic.twitter.com/Ijb2exVx07