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Former Skipper Leadbitter Retires
Tuesday, 14th Sep 2021 09:54

Former Town skipper Grant Leadbitter has announced his retirement, aged 35.

Leadbitter was released by local club Sunderland at the end of last season, his second spell at the Stadium of Light having come through their youth system and broken into first-team football with the Wearsiders.

His former Black Cats manager Roy Keane brought him to Portman Road in September 2009 for a fee of £2.65 million and he went on to make 120 starts and six sub appearances, scoring 14 times before moving to Middlesbrough in May 2012 having turned down the offer of a new contract at Town.

The former England U16, U17, U19, U20 and U21 international left Teesside to return to Sunderland in January 2019.

“The time has come to officially end my days playing professional football,” Leadbitter wrote on Instagram.

“After taking a few months off to enjoy a holiday with the family and reflect, I've realised I am ready to retire.

“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. Now I can look forward.

“I would like to thank my mam and dad for everything they did for me and my sisters - helping me to fulfil a dream.

“And, of course, I want to thank my wife and two daughters for all of their support throughout a career which has led me to play for clubs with great history.

“The memories I have from playing for Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Ipswich will live with me forever.

“Those promotion celebrations with Sunderland and Middlesbrough were incredible and I am proud to have played in the Premier League for both.

“I have worked with some fantastic people, some top players and under brilliant managers. I loved wearing the colours of all the clubs I played for and it was an honour to wear the England shirt from schoolboy all the way up to U21s.

“Who knows what the future holds but I am excited about it. I will miss playing but whether I go into coaching, the media or even something else I know I can draw on my experiences and help others in the future. Once again, thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way.”

Meanwhile, former Town striker Connor Wickham has joined Preston North End on a short-term contract until January following a trial.

The 28-year-old left Crystal Palace after an injury-hit spell in the summer.

Ex-England U21 international Wickham came through the academy ranks at Town before being sold to Sunderland for £8.1 million in the summer of 2011.

Photos: Matchday Images/Reuters

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BlueySwede added 10:04 - Sep 14
Good luck for the future! In my view Leadbitter was a little bit of a disappointment for us, but I think it has more to do with the whole era from that time..big money signings, big expectations..we know what happened.

blues1 added 10:52 - Sep 14
Blueyswede. Think ur right. He was actually an excellent player when he signed but unfortunately got dragged down to the level of the others around him.

runningout added 11:22 - Sep 14
Spot on and seems to have been the trend for over a decade. Great players turning into bang average ones when they arrive in sleepy Ipswich. Fingers crossed times are changing for the better :-)

Cheshire_Blue added 12:34 - Sep 14
Under rated player hounded out by the numpties. No surprise he turned down the offer of a new contract at Ipswich.

TractorRoyNo1 added 12:57 - Sep 14
Decent player but Keane spent £2m too much in him

Linkboy13 added 13:25 - Sep 14
Spot on Cheshire blue rated by those of us who have actually played the game but hounded out by numpties in our ranks.

Super_Cooper added 13:38 - Sep 14
Could go to Colchester to retire!

grumpyoldman added 14:38 - Sep 14
Leadbitter was one of the players over the years who become the scapegoat for the teams woes. Scuse (oh for his calming influence this season) & Jermaine Wright come readily to mind. It will happen again, candidate for this season is at present Lee Evans.

Bert added 15:14 - Sep 14
In the context of our club, he was a decent player. I hope he remains in the game in some capacity.

Monkey_Blue added 15:23 - Sep 14
grumpyoldman. I don’t like scapegoating, however Evans is a guy who has played the ONLY “system” PC has in his armoury and appears as lost as anyone. Evans is getting criticised for his performances but possibly it’s the tactics that are holding him back…. But at 28 when he should be in his prime and having had lots of chances to establish himself at higher levels he’s kicking around the third tier. There is a reason for that.

blues1 added 17:23 - Sep 14
Monkeyblue. Dont think it's the system or the tactics that are the issue with Evan's. The problem is that he and harper are both the same kind of player. Both players who will start moves off but not really defensive players. Think with Morsy playing with him he'll show up much more. As indeed would Harper. Tbh the only reason imo that fans have preferred harperxso far is that hes does somexflashy stuff at times whereas Evan's is much more a steady player. Tho hisxability to spray the ball out to the wingers on a regular basis is exceptional. Really think once Morsy is in the team that it will be one of the 2 alongside him. Not necessarily the same one each game tho. Morsy definitely the kind of player weve been lacking so far.

blues1 added 17:46 - Sep 14
Monkeyblue. One other thing. Just remember Evan's turned down championship clubs to sign for us. So not sure where ur coming from about him kicking around in lge1. As did many of those who signed.

Cakeman added 18:15 - Sep 14
I wish Grant a good retirement. Never really cut it for us but I don’t think that was all down to him.
He had a lot of skill but not for the first time over the past fifteen years we failed to utilise it.
I am very fearful we are already doing the same with Joe Pigott and Conor Chaplin. Both of these players were on fire for AFC Wimbledon and Barnsley respectively last season and yet we don’t use them in the right way. In Pigott’s case not getting much game time and playing him as a lone striker which is not how he scored his goals at Wimbledon. Then Chaplin just being played completely out of position.
I really hope this changes soon before both of those players and probably others become demoralised and have their enthusiasm drained.
The vast majority of the nineteen signings we made were an improvement on what we had but our management of them since their signings is very questionable.

ButchersBrokenNose added 18:28 - Sep 14
I always liked Leadbitter as a player and never understood why we didn't get the best out of him. I thought at the time that if he liked playing for Keane at Sunderland, and Keane brought him here, surely he would continue to shine for him. But no. To rub salt in our wounds, I thought he played well against us last year.

ButchersBrokenNose added 18:35 - Sep 14
Cakeman - I agree. I am not in the "Cook out" crowd, but I've been concerned about his leadership ability since he arrived. For no good reason, he completely alienated the existing squad and discarded a good opportunity to make the playoffs last season. He now appears to be doing the same thing with the players he has brought here. I don't know what he is saying behind closed doors, but I can see the effect on the pitch and what I'm seeing is players who are a shadow of their former selves.

Mr. Ashton and the owners can give him time to for his squad "to gel," but if his players are performing worse than than they did at their last clubs, then they are losing value as ITFC assets. That's a whole different issue and one that I think they will regard more critically.

bobble added 09:11 - Sep 15
i see Connor Wickham went nowhere really after leaving us

Radlett_blue added 10:21 - Sep 15
Leadbitter seemed bang average at Town, but you could say that about many other over-priced signings who were at Town during the early years of the Evans era.

Radlett_blue added 10:21 - Sep 15
Leadbitter seemed bang average at Town, but you could say that about many other over-priced signings who were at Town during the early years of the Evans era.

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