West Ham United have confirmed that striker Dean Ashton has been forced to retire from football due to injury.
The 26-year-old has failed to recover from the ankle injury he sustained while training with the England squad in 2006.
Ashton had not played a first-team game for 14 months and speculation had mounted in recent weeks that the Hammers would announce that his career had been curtailed.
The club has now confirmed that the former Crewe and Norwich man has quit after receiving warnings regarding his full fitness and long-term mobility.
Hammers CEO Scott Duxbury told the club’s official website: “This is a sad day and our thoughts are with Dean.
“I would like to place on record our thanks to him for all his efforts and wish him the very best.
“I would also like to thank the fans for their patience and understanding during what has been a difficult time.”
Ashton was a product of the Crewe Alexandra youth system, and after playing more then 200 games for the Railwaymen, he became Norwich City’s record signing when he joined the Canaries for £3 million in 2005. A string of impressive performances earned him a move to West Ham in January 2006 for £7.25 million, where he became a first-team regular.
The ankle break ruled him out for the whole 2006-07 campaign and though he did return, scoring 11 goals in 35 appearances in the 2007-08 season, he broke down again in September 2008.