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Posted by Jon Carter on 12/11/2009

It’s a sad day when a player of such obvious potential is forced to retire at such an early age. After months – some would say years – of battling injury, West Ham striker Dean Ashton has been forced to call it quits after failing to recover from an ankle injury.

As a young striker, Ashton briefly held the hopes of a nation before a challenge from Shaun Wright-Phillips during an England training session ahead the Greece game in August 2006 saw him crippled. He was set for his first start for his country after impressing for the Hammers, with then-England coach Steve McClaren earmarking him for greatness, but Ashton battled back fitness to make an impression in the 2007-08 season.

Then, as injuries often do, he lapsed. Another training ground incident and the weak ankle was exposed in Gianfranco Zola’s first session in charge at the start of the 2008-09 season. He hasn’t been seen since.

Ashton now faces a life without football – aged just 26. The possibility of legal action looms. Firstly, West Ham will be looking to the FA to hand out compensation in the region of £7 million in order to cover his insurance and amounts to the fee that the Hammers paid to Norwich City for his services back in January 2006.

Then, there is the personal claim that Ashton may pursue against Wright-Phillips. Such player-on-player claims are not without precedent, with £909,000 the largest amount of ‘’vicarious liability’’ received by Bradford City’s Gordon Watson, who had a leg broken in two places in a challenge by Huddersfield Town defender Kevin Gray in 1997. Although it hardly seems worth it, given the striker will get £3 million from West Ham for a year’s wages.

The mental anguish that one of the country’s best young prospects faces cannot be understated. It is a crushing blow to be forced to give up anything you love, but to retire from football in your mid-twenties is agonising.

Having been on the radar of some of the biggest clubs in England after showing his potential with Crewe Alexandra and Norwich City, Ashton must now battle harder than he ever has before to maintain a career outside of the game. He will need time to come to terms with his difficult decision, but using his experience of the game and the skills that were so cruelly taken away from him, he can have an impact on the next generation of superstars.

Injury occasionally robs us of players before they have shown us their best - Steve Coppell and Marco Van Basten to name but two in recent memory – but both have proved that there is life after the game. Ashton will forever be haunted by the ‘what could have been’ question, but hopefully he can bounce back and make a name for himself off the pitch.

Carlos Tevez recently stated that he was considering early retirement because of the demands of modern day football. Perhaps looking at a tragic case like Ashton’s will help him reconsider.


Posted by Alex Schneider on 12/11/2009

Tragic case indeed and I feel very sorry for Dean. However, vilifying poor SWP for a clumsy tackle when otherwise he is a fair sportsman seems ludicrous to me. Considering the bone-crunching tackles that are flying around every weekend on English pitches, you could sue almost every nuts defender.

Mind you, if it was up to me I would ban Pogatetz, Materazzi or Birmingham's Taylor for at least a year from the game, they have no place on the pitch if they intentionally set out to destroy the other player's legs.

Posted by Stephen on 12/11/2009

Ashton had a bright future ahead of him at club and international level. There were rumours of Man United showing interest a while back and you could see why. He possessed great strength, pace, skill and blistering fire-power. The game will miss him not only for what he was but also what he could have become and as for the lad himself I only hope he is as strong a charachter as his performances led me to believe.
This is indeed a tragedy and my heart goes out to him as he was destined for greatness.

Posted by don on 12/11/2009

yup its indeed a sad story for this footballer but when we talk about compensate it wouldnt be that adv to chrg o fine wright philips. what happened in the field is just a freak accident that might happen to anyone but not be one sided but in the end england just lost one of the most promising prospect for the country.. any way all the best for dean ashton.

Posted by isi_777 on 12/11/2009

well said. ashton had a great chance to play regularly for england (in something of a sheringham-type role)... very sad to see him forced to retire.

Posted by fw on 12/11/2009

cant believe it happened on the training pitch, not in a competitive match. it is really sad to see such a bright player fall by the way side, 3 million pounds showed how highly rated he is. but if can't build up a new life with that sort of money...well then...uhhh

Posted by foutsabel on 12/11/2009

Mentionning the name of SWP in this story is very unfortunate and mean spirited, he's not that kind of player. To add to the list of mean spirited sons of a gun in the Premiereship, we can name Rory De Lap, Michael Essien and this subtile little boy from Man U, Darren Fletcher.

Posted by Eazy-e on 12/11/2009

No matter who he is , it is really sad for someone to stop doing something against his will .... Well he's young i am sure he can contribute to football in other ways .. Good Luck man

Posted by Ed on 12/11/2009

Birmingham's Taylor got his first red when he did that to Arsen's little man and Taylor was 29 at the time of that. Didn't look to me that it was on purpose just him being slow.

Shame he had to retire, he was a great player. Hope he goes into coaching, or announcing. Best of luck to you Dean.

Posted by BluesSupporter on 12/11/2009

Hey Alex,

How can you say not to Vilify poor SWP for a clumsy tackle and then say tat Martin Taylor should be banned for a year? Taylors was a clumsy tackle as well, he didn't do it intentionally. Eduardo even said it himself.

Terrible news about Ashton, he has a long journey ahead of him. Coaching?

Posted by Razmus on 12/11/2009

Sad news. And with his prime just around the corner too. But Ashton always stood out as someone who can and will cope with the setback in his own dignified manner and go on to greater things. All the best, Dean. Hope to see you around.

Posted by Austin Odianosen on 12/11/2009

My heart goes out to Dean Ashton and the rest of his family.This should be a rude awakening to clubs who rush back players to action when they are not fully recovered.I believe the degeneration in the ankle was caused by lack of proper rest.Any I wish Dean all the best and he will surely come to terms with his fate.

Posted by TC81 on 12/11/2009

Good luck dean. football will suffer for your loss. may you be happy in the afterlife

Posted by patrick on 12/11/2009

Unfortunate, sure, but not tragic. Let us remember, he was a football player. He was not harmed serving his country or protecting innocent lives. He was a football player. I too was excited by Ashton's potential, but let us hope that he is an upstanding lad and hope that he will take this opportunity to live a long, healthy, fruitful life.

Posted by Philip on 12/11/2009

Reading the Ashton story, my heart cannot stop bleeding for him.To me, it sounds more like an obituary. How can such a youngman with so great a talent be forced to retire from what he loves most? To be sincere, no amount of compensation from anybody can be enough to eradicate the trauma which this premature retirement has caused and will continue to cause the youngman and the rest of his team-mates.

This is the time for FIFA, UEFA and anybody responsible for the administration of the game and truely care about its survival to takle 'evil challenges' in the game.

To Ashton, my heart will forever be with him. Let him take consolation from Van Basten and Eduardo and know that there is still live in football even after injury (maybe in a different capacity).

Posted by USAA THOMAS TERFA on 12/11/2009


Posted by kazza on 12/11/2009

this is a very sad..sad news...but it can happens in this sport, but what's really bother me is that it happened when he is only mr. dean ashton, be strong...u r simply the best...

Posted by Anonymous on 12/11/2009

sad day!

Posted by petewu on 12/11/2009

He's got 3m to start a new life. Injuries is part of the game (career) hazards, compare that with the hazards a policeman or soldier face in their course of duty. This is sad, I agree, but tragic? Try telling those families with their boys killed in Afghanistan. Get real...

Posted by Devin Character on 12/11/2009

Dean Ashton, you will be missed. Injuries are something that I can definitely relate, but being forced to retire from soccer at 26 years old because of them is something that I could never imagine. Maybe after a year or two off, your ankle will get stronger and better, and maybe you will be able to play again. I am sure that you have the skill and the talent; the only question is if your body will let you. I loved watching you play for West Ham. You always put in fantastic performances and you were truly a great footballer with an amazing future ahead of you, and with a great past behind you. I admire you as a player, and I wish you all the best.

Posted by Patrick Pillow on 12/11/2009

There is no need to villify SWP, unfortunately these things happen in training. Deano wouldve been a fantastic play for England I believe, and I wouldve loved to have seen him in a United jersey. However, his undeniable skill could well be but to good use. All the best Dean.

Posted by mika on 12/11/2009

Ashton, whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Sit down, think what you really love to do (other than playing competitive football of course) and get up and do it. I hope you become a great soccer coach, just as you were a player.

Posted by otownballer3 on 12/11/2009

Sadly this is an unavoidable aspect of all sports at any level. Think of Bo Jackson, one of the greatest athletes of all time anywhere. I think Ashton can take comfort in the fact that he isn't the only one to suffer this misfortune and that, as the article insufficiently points out, there is indeed life away from football.

Posted by Harper Keeler on 12/11/2009

Really sad. Here's a thought. Any movie with Vinnie Jones is better for it in my opinion. Ashton's got that same swagger. Go on Deano, Hollywood awaits.

Posted by Davon on 12/12/2009

No more tragic than any worker who gets laid off from a job with no hope of ever finding another like it. He's one among tens of thousands. With the incredible sums footballers earn, I'm sure he accumulated a tidy sum in his playing career. More than most of us could ever dream of earning in a lifetime.

Posted by Hamzah on 12/12/2009

Sad to hear about the retirement Ashton. i have seen him as a role model player.
Enjoy watching him score and create goals for the team that he played.
I hope that Ashton will recover from the injury and pursue greatness again.
Well as my granddad say you never know the future hold for you. So Ashton do not give up..
All the best to the one of the greatest player in England.

Posted by yong on 12/12/2009

so whats next for him after football???

Posted by khairil(acs) on 12/12/2009

ashton was a great player but its so sad to see his career with west ham so early.he was a respected striker but to see him leave the football world like that....its not right.he shall be remembered like other great footballers not because of early retirement but the way he sparked the game into life during his time playing time at west ham.i may not be a hammers fan but i feel sad about this and for west ham losing a key player is like liverpool losing torres or chelsea losing is a cruel game but u must be ready when something like this i will like to say i hope dean ashton wiill have a better life out there.

Posted by Steesh on 12/12/2009

Yeah, that was massively hypocritical saying that Taylor deserves to be villified and SWP doesn't. The hate Taylor got was absolutely ridiculous. It seemed liked I was the only person in the world who could tell that there was no malice whatsoever on his part. You just can not compare that with say the Keane-Haaland incident.

On topic though, I really feel for Ashton. Apparently it's unlikely he will ever be able to run again. At least he got to live the dream, however brief.

Posted by gerrymc on 12/12/2009

Villifying Martin Taylor is pathetic Alex, even whinging Wenger had to back down eventually. However, shame about Ashton, potentially a great English forward, SWP is blameless.

Posted by hernan on 12/18/2009

I feel sorry for the man, but in no case this is a tragedy. Let's not exaggerate here. He still has his youth and his health, and he's getting a good chunk of money, 3 million pounds.
If he's smart enough, he'll find another career that will satisfy him

Posted by Ben Barclay on 12/19/2009

Not to take away from the boy's talent or suffering, but the way the article was written makes it sound like not living a football dream is the only important thing. I note this Christmas all the people out of work with no job and no hope, families split up, lot's of dreams shattered all around.

The article would have more resonance for me if it was grounded in the real world the rest of us live in. He's retiring with how much in the bank. He's got how many wonderful contacts and the sympathy of how many to help him go forward.

Meanwhile the women who change the beds in the hotel rooms these guys jet around into, for $8 an hour and no health or dental benefits, what about them?

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