Ex-Liverpool player Stephen Darby's fight with 'brutal disease'

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Stephen Darby
Image caption,
Stephen Darby has been diagnosed with motor neurone disease

An ex-Premier League player has spoken of how he is living with a "brutal disease" with a "terrible prognosis".

Stephen Darby, 31, retired last year after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease (MND).

Darby, who started his career with Liverpool before playing for Bradford and Bolton, wants to raise money for more research into the disease.

The 31-year-old is supported by his wife Steph Houghton, who is captain of the England women's football team.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Stephen Darby played for Liverpool in the Champions League

Darby announced his retirement and revealed his condition in September 2018, 14 months after he joined Bolton from Bradford.

"Life expectancy is normally two to five years [and] a third of people die within a year. That's obviously quite tough. It's quite brutal," he said.

Darby described the diagnosis as a "shock" and said it was "quite tough to take on board" but he is now determined to raise funds for the Darby Rimmer MND Foundation.

The Liverpool-born footballer set up the charity with close friend and former soldier Chris Rimmer, who has also been diagnosed with MND - a degenerative condition that affects how nerves in the brain and spinal cord function.

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"It is a brutal disease with a horrible prognosis," he said.

His fundraising has already attracted support from ex-team-mates and former clubs who have backed initiatives including a match in July between Bradford and Liverpool .

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Liverpool played Bradford earlier this year to raise money for Stephen Darby's charity

Darby started his career with Liverpool's academy in 2008, playing three times in the Champions League and once in the Premier League, before signing for Bradford in 2012.

His first season with the Bantams included a run to the final of the League Cup and ended with promotion from League Two via the play-offs. He joined Bolton in 2016.