It’s always sad when a 26 year-old retires from professional football, but it’s unusually so for Dean Ashton, if only because the injury that forced his decision today came at the peak of his career in August 2006: training for England as a 22 year-old, he received a tackle from Shaun Wright-Philips that shattered his ankle for good. Even though he recovered to play in 2007-8, even earning his first and only England cap against Trinidad & Tobago in June 2008, persistent ankle problems have forced him out of the game.
The retirement also brings up a host of potential legal issues. Ashton is reportedly considering taking action against Wright-Philips himself, with Gordon Taylor, the Professional Footballers’ Association chief executive, warning against such a move. Ashton, as a member of the PFA, did have insurance to cover some of his loss of earnings, but it’s unlikely to cover much of the potential riches Ashton had ahead of him as he was breaking into the England team.
West Ham, meanwhile, are still working out compensation from the Football Association because their player was injured on England duty, which could run to several million.
But it’s Ashton himself who has to deal with a career cut short, his peak forever stuck at the age of 22, his most memorable moments surely his outstanding performance for West Ham in the FA Cup Final in May 2006 against Liverpool that ended up being a losing effort. The PFA’s Taylor says his union will help Ashton:
That’s the biggest factor really, that a hands-on situation psychologically coping because suddenly you’re enjoying life, you’re very skilled at what you’re doing and you can’t get a lot higher than being in the training camp with England, and then suddenly your career is over. And it’s like a cold shower and having to come to terms with it, it’s not easy and that’s when we are prepared to give all the help needed. But it is a matter of coping psychologically and thinking ahead to the future because no matter what, this day comes when you would get into your 30s if you’ve had a full career it’s just that unfortunately this of course has been curtailed prematurely.
- A German referee, Georg Schalk. is taking legal action against Arminia Bielefeld assistant coach Frank Eulberg who allegedly called him a “dirty homosexual” following a second division match last week.
- Uh oh: Alisher Usmanov has upped his share in Arsenal again.
- How curious is it that Portsmouth-Burnley became the sixth most watched broadcast on ESPN2 in the United States, with 278,078 tuning in? Maybe Burnley’s bizarrely regular performances on the channel have earned them a rabid American following.
- Meanwhile, Portsmouth’s financial woes only deepen, and in the Championship, Crystal Palace are the latest English club-in-crisis as they put up their entire playing staff for sale.
- The man who negotiated Notts County’s sale to Munto Finance, club chairman John Armstrong-Holmes, has admitted he was effectively hoodwinked: “I was told that Munto’s backers, Qadbak Investments, were owned by hugely wealthy investors who would take Notts County to another level financially. Instead, just a few months later, we have a club that has left several debts unpaid, with county court judgments and a winding up petition having been issued against it, and major questions still unanswered about Qadbak’s ownership. Far from believing that the club is now on its way to climbing up the leagues and the bright future Qadbak promised, I am now dreadfully worried about what the future holds.” This is quite a turnaround from June 2009, when Armstrong-Holmes told gathered supporters that “They have a bank guarantee. It is cast iron. The people we are dealing with are the most honourable people I have ever met.” Apparently not.
- Here’s a happier tale for Friday, with the Telegraph looking at the surprising success of Eddie Howe at Bournemouth, the league’s youngest manager.
- The Women’s World Cup in Germany in 2011 looks set to be a great success, with demand for tickets already outstripping supply: 160,000 requests have already been made.
- And finally, the ever-wonderfully random Some People Are On The Pitch’s Friday List looks at 17 Englishmen who have managed national teams outside the UK. Who remembers Keith Pritchett’s magical spell with New Zealand in 1996-7?!
The Sweeper appears every weekday, and once at the weekend. For more rambling and links throughout the day every day, follow your editor Tom Dunmore @pitchinvasion on Twitter.