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Football: Five Players set to Retire this Summer

The end of a football season is a time for new beginnings and, for some players, it will be a time to hang up their boots and think of a different path.

Here are five players who we expect will be calling it a day in the next few weeks, with one of them having  just confirmed his retirement.

Mark Noble

West Ham stalwart Mark Noble is the most notable player in the Premier League who has said he will definitely packing up when the campaign comes to a close.

The 35-year-old midfielder, who was born not far from Upton Park in Canning Town, has played more Premier League games for the Hammers than anyone else and it is almost 18 years since he made his first-team debut in a 2-0 League Cup victory over Southend United.

Apart from two loan spells at Hull City and Ipswich Town, he has been a one-club man and earned the nickname Mr West Ham, helping the east London outfit to two promotions to the top-flight in 2005 and 2012.

The one thing he will probably look back on with disappointment is that, after representing England at all youth levels, he was unable to earn a full cap.

He has also been granted the freedom of the London Borough of Newham.

Adebayo Akinfenwa

The mighty Wycombe striker will be 40 on 10th May and has become one of the most recognisable characters in the lower leagues in recent seasons - with Wanderers 13/8 to be prooted to the Championship this season.

Akinfenwa started his career in Lithuania and turned out for Barry Town in the Welsh Premier League before short spells at Boston United, Leyton Orient and Rushden & Diamonds.

He then really made his mark when he scored 14 goals in the 2004-05 season at Torquay United and the well-travelled striker followed that by playing for Swansea City, while a period at Gillingham punctuated two spells at Northampton Town.

A subsequent career highlight came in 2016 when he scored in AFC Wimbledon’s 2016 League Two play-off final win over Plymouth Argyle, before he went on to help Wycombe reach the second tier for the first time when he was part of the team who beat Oxford United in the League One play-off final.

Stephen Ward

Stephen Ward’s career has come a long way since he was signed by Wolves manager Mick McCarthy as a striker from Irish club Bohemians in 2007.

Ward, who has retired after 477 games in English football, was converted into a left-back and he helped the MIdlands outfit get promoted in 2009.

He was loaned for a season to Brighton before joining Burnley in 2014, seeing the Clarets relegated and then helping them straight back into the Premier League in 2016 - with Burnley 6/5 to be relegated again this season.

Spells at Stoke City and Ipswich followed and he ended his career after a season in League Two with Walsall.

Ward earned 50 caps for Ireland after making his debut in 2011 and he was in the squad for the European Championships in both 2012 and 2016.

Allan McGregor

One player who has yet to confirm his retirement is Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor, but it would seem an ideal time for the 40-year-old to hang up his gloves.

His Ibrox contract comes to an end when the season draws to a close and while the Gers are unlikely to stop Celtic claiming the Scottish Premiership title, it is still a campaign that is set for a huge climax.

Rangers claimed a place in the Europa League final with a stirring 3-1 semi-final second-leg victory over RB Leipzig and can look forward to a final date with another Bundesliga side, Eintracht Frankfurt, with the Gers 11/10 to lift the trophy.

Hearts also await in the Scottish Cup final and the timing could prove perfect for an emotional departure.

McGregor has played more than 450 games in two spells for Rangers, while he also had five years at Hull and a loan spell at Cardiff City, while the last of his 42 Scotland appearances came in 2018.

Scott Brown

It was no surprise to hear that former tough-tackling Celtic midfielder Scott Brown had called time on his career, as he left his position as player-coach at Aberdeen in February after manager Stephen Glass left the club.

It has been a brief spell at Pittodrie after Brown ended his 14-year stay at Parkhead the previous summer, where he won 22 domestic honours, including nine successive Premiership titles.

Brown had started his career at HIbs and earned 55 caps for Scotland, but the 36-year-old is already looking forward to the next chapter, as he has said he is actively pursuing a managerial role.

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