Ex-Burnley and Charlton Athletic player announces retirement | OneFootball

Ex-Burnley and Charlton Athletic player announces retirement | OneFootball

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Football League World

·27 March 2023

Ex-Burnley and Charlton Athletic player announces retirement

Article image:Ex-Burnley and Charlton Athletic player announces retirement

Former Premier League and EFL midfielder Dale Stephens has announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 33.

Stephens has called time on his career having been a free agent since his release by Burnley at the end of his contract in June 2022 - he did not sign for another team after that and he is now hanging up his boots.

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Born in Bolton, Stephens came through the academy setup at nearby Bury, playing 12 times for them at senior level as well as spending time out on loan in non-league at Droylsden and Hyde United before he moved to the Shakers' rivals Oldham Athletic in 2008.

Performances for the Latics saw him secure a switch to Charlton Athletic in 2011 for £350,000, and after 84 appearances in League One and the Championship for the Addicks, he went on to move on to Brighton in 2014 and spent six-and-a-half year with the south coast club, scoring 15 times in 223 outings.

Moving back up north to Burnley for an undisclosed fee in September 2020, Stephens stayed in the Premier League for the final two seasons of his career, but he barely featured with just 14 appearances in all competitions for the Clarets before he was released.

"Today I have the privilege of retiring from playing professional football after 16 years," Stephens wrote in a statement published on Twitter.

"I am incredibly fortunate and proud to have represented some fantastic football clubs 416 times across every tier of English football, competing against some of the best players in the world.

"I will be forever grateful for the opportunity and the memories of representing you; Bury, Rochdale, Oldham Athletic, Southampton, Charlton Athletic, Brighton & Hove Albion and Burnley.

"From the managers and coaches that taught me, the physios that helped me, my team mates who inspired me and the supporters who backed me every week. Without you I wouldn't be writing this statement. Thank you!"

The Verdict

Stephens was a very solid midfielder in his prime for Brighton, in which he racked up 99 Premier League appearances for the Seagulls, and that's perhaps what his career will be best remembered for.

For whatever reason he did not get a club after his stint with Burnley, even though there was interest from Middlesbrough, West Brom and Watford according to The Athletic.

Perhaps it was his lack of game-time since 2020 that put suitors off or the fact that he was having to nurse his way through an ankle problem for a number of years, but for someone of the experience of Stephens you'd have expected one club at least to have picked him up.

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