Motor Neurone Disease Forces Stephen Darby to Retire

  • September 18, 2018 | By Chris Mann
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Bolton defender Stephen Darby has been forced into retirement after being diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.

Darby, who joined Wanderers on a free transfer from Bradford City in July 2017, made just five appearances during his time at the University of Bolton Stadium - the most recent of which came in defeat to Burton Albion in December 2017.

The 29-year-old graduated from the renowned Liverpool academy and made his senior debut for the Reds in a Champions League game at Atletico Madrid in October 2008.

He would later be loaned to Swindon Town, Notts County and Rochdale, before finding regular football during a five-year spell at Bradford.

Motor Neurone Disease affects the brain and nerves, causing weakness in the body that becomes worse over time and eventually proves to be fatal.

Although there is no known cure, treatments to allow people to lead a normal day-to-day routine are available.

Darby is understood to have personally announced his retirement to teammates at Wanderers' Lostock training base, before going public with his diagnosis on Tuesday.

Speaking to, 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 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 has come in for tough criticism from supporters since arriving at Bolton and manager Phil Parkinson believes the player never got the opportunity to prove his critics wrong, saying his off-field influence helped with last season's escape against relegation.

"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 (Houghton)," 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.

"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."

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Sky Bet League One Standings

Pos Team Pld Pts
19 AFC Wimbledon 19 17
20 Tranmere Rovers 18 17
21 Milton Keynes Dons 19 14
22 Southend United 20 6
23 Bolton Wanderers 16 2
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