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Former Oxford United defender Duberry calls it a day
MICHAEL Duberry officially starts life as an ex-footballer today after calling time on a career spanning two decades and almost 500 games.
The 37-year-old exclusively revealed his decision to the Oxford Mail yesterday after mulling it over for several weeks.
Duberry’s 484th and final professional appearance came in Oxford United’s 3-0 win at Accrington Stanley in April.
The U’s decided not to renew the defender’s contract after a serious neck injury kept him on the sidelines for the first half of last season.
Retirement was not on the cards at that stage, but with only a brief spell at non-league Hendon earlier this season, he decided to make what was in the end a simple decision.
He said: “It crept up very quickly. When I left Oxford in the summer I kept myself fit and thought the phone would ring.
“Obviously I restricted myself to a radius where I wanted to be close to my kids, but I didn’t think that would be a problem.
“For whatever reason it didn’t happen.
“When I left Hendon I was training on my own and I thought ‘you know what, you’ll be 38 soon, I’m going to call it a day and look forward to my next step’.
“I have had journalism and media work in my head and I’m going to give 100 per cent to that, which is what I did when I started football.”
Duberry proved a huge hit with the Oxford fans and reflects with a smile on his spell at the Kassam Stadium.
“I loved my time at Oxford,” he said. “The first season was amazing as I played with a passion from the first pre-season game. I wanted to show everyone I wasn’t an old player.
“I had that attitude every week and it kept me going to prove the doubters wrong.
“The second year I was so gutted to need surgery on my neck because I had such big plans.
“I was determined not to retire on the treatment table. It was a massive thing to get back playing again.”
Hanging up his boots has given Duberry, who played in the Premier League for Chelsea, Leeds and Reading, time to reflect on a career in professional footballer.
After starting out from humble beginnings in north London, the former centre back admitted it had been a dream ever since.
“I sit here happy and content because I take with me great memories,” he said. “I look back and I’m proud of my career.
“I’m proud of who I’ve played with and against – the journey has been a fairytale.
“When I started at Enfield Rangers at nine years old, if someone had shown me the path I would go on and what I’ve achieved, I would have thought they were joking.
“Speaking about the whole of my career, do I have any regrets? There’s absolutely none because I’m sat here smiling.”
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