Remember when Dean Ashton was hailed as the next Alan Shearer? It wasn’t so long ago – a handful of seasons, no more.
But in August 2006, Ashton broke his ankle during an England training session. He missed all of the 2006-07 season but did return the following season to play 30-odd games for West Ham. In May 2008 he made his delayed England debut, in a friendly against Trinidad & Tobago. Despite these encouraging signs, he never fully recovered from the injury.
Even without medical advice telling him to call it a day, Ashton must have known in his heart – felt in his body – that he would never be the same player and so today he announced his retirement from professional football, at