Former Liverpool academy graduate Darby retires at 29.

Former Liverpool academy graduate Darby retires at 29.

Former Liverpool youth academy graduate Stephen Darby announced his retirement today after being diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease, a devastating degenerative ailment similar to ALS. It affects both the nerves in the brain as well as the spinal cord and currently has no cure.

The 29-year-old right back said, “I would like to ask for privacy at this time so I can adjust to the battle I have ahead and that I can spend time with those closest to me…I’d like to take the opportunity to thank my teammates, manager, and all the staff at Bolton for their amazing support at what has been an extremely difficult period.”

Darby began his professional career with the Reds back in 2008. While he made only seven total appearances with them, he was loaned out around England from 2010 to 2012 on three different assignments. He officially left Merseyside in 2012 to be signed by then-League Two side Bradford. He would stay with the Bantams until 2017, but not without becoming team captain from 2014 to 2016.

Bradford chairman Edin Rahic said “The news is absolutely heartbreaking. Stephen was a massive part of the club’s recent history and his contributions will stay with us forever.”

After five seasons, 239 appearances, and a team player of the year award, Darby left Bradford for the Bolton Wanderers last year. He only played in five matches for the Trotters but was reunited with his former Bradford manager Phil Parkison.

Parkinson said of Darby that, “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 constantly set high standards in training every day and encouraged and drove his teammates on.”

We here at the Game Changer Sports Network would like to send our support to Stephen as he begins treatment. You’ll never walk alone.

If you would like to learn more about MND, including how to donate or volunteer, check out this website for more.

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