BBC BLOGS - Michael Gray

Knowing when to hang up your boots

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Michael Gray | 09:37 UK time, Tuesday, 11 May 2010

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So, after over 500 games as a professional footballer, I am officially retired. Even though I have made the decision to stop playing, saying it out loud still sounds strange.

The decision to hang up my boots is not a knee-jerk reaction to being relegated from the Championship with Sheffield Wednesday or something I have taken lightly. I made my mind up six months ago.

I have had a great career, but when it got to the stage with the Owls where we were not winning, the enjoyment just went out of it for me.

Not enjoying something you love is a strange feeling and it was getting on top of me.
It is frustrating because you are giving it everything every week and each defeat hits you hard and it is not only the football that suffers but your family life and everything else.

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It's either us or Palace

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Michael Gray | 12:07 UK time, Friday, 30 April 2010

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I've played more than 500 games in my career, but I can't think of any bigger than Sheffield Wednesday's relegation decider with Crystal Palace on Sunday.

The stakes could not be higher: if we win, we stay in the Championship; if we don't, Palace stay up. Either way, one set of fans, staff and players will be elated while the other will be facing up to life in League One next season.

To say it's been a rollercoaster of emotions and feelings in the past week barely comes close to describing the last few days.

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A professional always has something to play for

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Michael Gray | 16:29 UK time, Thursday, 22 April 2010

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After all the hype surrounding the 125th Steel City derby, we have been straight back down to earth this week preparing for Saturday's vital trip to Cardiff City.

The Sheffield derby is always a huge occasion and, with more than 35,000 fans at Hillsborough last Sunday, the atmosphere was electric. The supporters helped us to a 1-1 draw - the fans had been looking forward to the game as much as the players - and the occasion certainly didn't disappoint. It wasn't pretty, that's for sure, but derbies rarely are.

The way the game unfolded made us feel that we should have taken all three points, but unfortunately Lee Williamson fired in a free-kick off the back post to cancel out Darren Potter's first-half goal. It was gut wrenching for us, to be honest, but if you look at the match as a whole you would probably say a draw was a fair result. Neither team really took their chances.

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