Grant Leadbitter: Ex-Sunderland, Middlesbrough & Ipswich Town midfielder confirms retirement at 35

Grant Leadbitter
Grant Leadbitter's passion for Sunderland came from his upbringing, with football-loving parents

Former Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Ipswich Town midfielder Grant Leadbitter has retired from professional football, aged 35.

The veteran was released by boyhood club Sunderland this summer, after 18 goals in 210 games across two spells.

Ex-Black Cats boss Roy Keane took him to Ipswich where he played 126 matches, while he helped Boro win promotion to the top flight during a 244-game spell.

"I've realised I am ready to retire," Leadbitter posted on social media.external-link

"Of course there has been a temptation to carry on, but since playing my final game for Sunderland in May I have had it in my mind I wasn't going to play on. I just wanted to be sure it was the correct decision.

"For me to finish after my second and final spell at the club where it all started, the one I supported as a boy, and where I loved going with my mam and dad, just seems right."

The Chester-le-Street-born player will be remembered on Wearside for moments such as the spectacular goal against Arsenal in 2008, a poignant moment as he paid tribute to his Sunderland-loving father, kissing the ground upon which his ashes had been buried at the Stadium of Light.

He became the first Sunderland player since Bobby Kerr at Wembley in 1973 to lift a trophy for the club at Wembley, with their Papa John's Trophy success in March, and he also captained all three of his permanent clubs.

His final game for the club was their League One play-off semi-final exit against Lincoln City in May, with the disappointment visible on his face at the full-time whistle.

His time down the A19 at Middlesbrough will also be recalled fondly, skippering the side to promotion from the Championship in 2016 after the heartbreak of play-off final defeat by Norwich the previous season.

Grant Leadbitter
Grant Leadbitter was popular at Middlesbrough, captaining the club to promotion to the Premier League

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