Stephen Ward, a former Republic of Ireland international with 50 caps has today announced his decision to retire from football with immediate effect.
Ward was plying his trade for Walsall in League Two but had suffered an injury hit campaign since signing for the club in the summer of 2021.
The Dubliner made the move from Bohemians to Wolves in 2007 and was originally a striker. Under Mick McCarthy, Ward was developed into a left-back and excelled. McCarthy described him as one of his best ever signings.
He would go on to represent his country at both the 2012 and 2016 European Championships and scored three goals during the course of his 50 caps.
In 2019, Ward decided to retire from international football. His best years came under the tutelage of Martin O’Neill.
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Ward clocked up 222 appearances for Wolves before appearing in a further 101 games for Burnley. During his time with the Clarets win promotion to the Premier League as champions in the 2015-16 season as well as helping them reach the UEFA Europa League in the 2017-18 season.
There were shorter spells at Stoke City and Ipswich that followed.
Making his debut in front of nearly 1,300 travelling fans on the opening day of the season against Tranmere Rovers, Ward has made 30 appearances in all competitions for the Saddlers and he made his final professional appearance as the Saddlers secured their League Two status in the Good Friday win over Carlisle United at the Banks’s Stadium.
"I have decided to retire now as I feel my body is telling me it's time to stop playing," said Ward.
"I have really enjoyed my last season as a professional at Walsall and I am grateful to both Matt Taylor and Michael Flynn for how they have handled my last season.
"I want to thank all the players, staff, the Chairman and the fans for making it a very special year for me.
"Unfortunately we didn't achieve what we wanted to on the pitch but I felt after securing our status in the league last Friday, it was a perfect time to stop.
"It will let the manager and lads finish the season strong and set them up for next season which I have no doubt will be a massive success.
"I have lived every kid’s dream. It is with a heavy heart that I have come to this decision but I am looking forward to the next chapter in my life. Thanks again, Wardy."
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