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Knowing when to hang up your boots

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

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.

I told my closest friends at Sheffield Wednesday a while ago but didn't tell the manager or make an announcement because, with the club fighting a relegation battle, it never felt like the right time.
I kept those things to myself because I wanted to keep Wednesday in the Championship so much.

Sheff-Wed_getty_595.jpgHeartbreak for Sheffield Wednesday fans relegated to League One (getty images)

Losing the enjoyment was the mental reason to stop playing but the other reason I decided to retire was that my body was not recovering as quickly as I would like after games. The effort really took its toll.

Being a footballer is so different to any other career. I always said to myself that I wanted to get to 35 and still be playing. That was my target when I started out as a young footballer, so I have no regrets.

I'm 36 in August and I would be lying if I said that I wasn't sad or disappointed to be finishing, because football has been great to me. It is all I have known since starting off as a schoolboy at Manchester United.

The thing I have to get my head around is that a huge chunk of my life has moved on. It is a matter of opening new doors now.

I have really enjoyed doing this blog, it has been a bit of a relief writing about the whole season and how it has panned out - although it would have been better to write more pieces about us winning!

I have also really enjoyed reading all of your replies, whether they were good or bad, I didn't mind. I hope my replies were OK.

So I guess the question is what does a professional footballer do when they retire?
For me, I have done work for BBC Radio 5 live and thoroughly enjoy that and the media side is something I will pursue because football is all I have known so I would like to stay involved.

Over the summer I have got the World Cup to keep me busy and I will watch as many games as I can. It would be nice to work over there, so if there is anyone reading this blog I am open for enquiries!

The other thing a lot of retired players tend to go into is coaching, but that has never been for me. I started doing my badges when I was at Blackburn with one of our coaches, Neil Bailey, but then he left to join Sunderland.

I do enjoy the day in, day out of training and will really miss being with the lads, but I am not the sort of person who can do coaching exams for four years plus I do not think it is necessary. Surely if you have been in the game for 20 years you know most things already.

Some people decide to leave the game altogether when they retire - that won't be me, I will go to as many games as possible. I look forward to going to watch Sunderland because I have missed visiting the Stadium of Light over the years.

I will certainly miss playing football but, with the season only recently finished, it has not really sunk in yet.

However, I do know that when the 1 July comes around and I am stuck at home, that is when it will hit home - that is when I will miss it.

Everyone talks about pre-seasons and it is true they do not get any easier but I was very fortunate throughout my career with injuries and never missed a pre-season from the age of 15.
Having said that, I spoke to Wednesday manager Alan Irvine and he told me they will be having a very tough pre-season. I had to be honest and tell him I would not miss that part.

gray_getty_595.jpg>Happy days: Scoring for Sunderland against Birmingham in 1997(getty images)

I wished Alan all the best, though. He is a great man and I really hope he gets Sheffield Wednesday back up into the Championship. They deserve to be there and Alan should be there too because he is first class.

Deciding to retire does make you cast your mind back to the good times - and the bad.
It is hard to pick out a few high points as there have been so many.

The promotions to the Premier League with Sunderland under Peter Reid were extra special - we got the new stadium and were playing in front of 48,000 every week, which was incredible.

My three England caps were really special and will live with me forever, no-one can take them away.

With Blackburn we got into the Uefa Cup for three years in a row, at Celtic I played for an amazing club in the Champions League and then there were the other fantastic clubs I played for - all of which were a privilege.

The lows were missing the penalty for Sunderland against Charlton in 1998 in the then First Division play-off final against Charlton at Wembley. It was 6-6 and I had the penalty to keep us in the competition and, being a local boy, the pain of missing that was huge. But I would like to think I came back a better person because of that.

The other low is relegation with Sheffield Wednesday. It was such a shame because I loved working there and although the rapport I had with the fans will live on, it was a really sad way to bow out.

Just finally I would like to say I have really appreciated the support I have had from all of the fans over the years, at every club I have been to.

I would really like to thank everyone for reading this blog and all of the replies you sent.
I have had really good time writing for you this season and the money I have been paid for the blog has all gone to the Children's Hospital charity so hopefully it will have helped youngsters too.

Comments

  • 1. At 09:53am on 12 May 2010, je_swfc180 wrote:

    Just would like to say good luck in the future and thank you for your efforts at Hillsbrough.
    You should get in touch with BBC radio Sheffield they might want you to do a few games next season.

    All the best

    Up the Owls

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  • 2. At 10:00am on 12 May 2010, FirthParkOwlsS5 wrote:

    Hi Michael, just wanted to pass on my best wishes for you in the future. As a massive Wednesday fan I was gutted we didn't play you more in the final 3-4 months of the season, as I thought your experience would have proved invaluable!!

    I could certainlty see that every time you pulled on a Sheffield Wednesday shirt you put in 110% whether things were going well or badly! I'm sure every supporter of every other club you played for will say the same.

    Unfortunately, i'm not sure everyone in our squad could say that this season. Maybe it is mostly only the old(er) pro's these days that know how much it mean's to us supporters. Now you are retired it would be interesting to know your thoughts on this?! Is it too much money? Is it that they know if they don't perform others will buy them?

    Anyway, a final quick question if you don't mind; Will you be using the Wednesday training ground at all over the next few weeks?! My little nephew was desperate for a signed shirt!!!

    Hopefully you will visit Hillsborough a few time's in the coming years as well. I'm sure you will always get a very warm welcome.

    UTO.

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  • 3. At 10:14am on 12 May 2010, mikestar01 wrote:

    Retiring from football must be the hardest thing for a footballer to do.
    Good luck for the future. I'm sure we'll still see you around.

    www.football-journo.com

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  • 4. At 10:26am on 12 May 2010, Gloss wrote:

    Good luck with what ever the future brings Micky and thank you for a cpl of good years with the Owls!

    All the best

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  • 5. At 10:30am on 12 May 2010, Kevin Taylor wrote:

    Michael,
    I remember seeing your debut for safc and you were and have always been a credit to us. Why not join the Former Players Association - we would all love to see some more young blood involved.
    Although not a Wednesday supporter I have always had a soft spot for them and hope that they get back up soon.
    Best wishes, Kevin

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  • 6. At 10:37am on 12 May 2010, TobyWolves wrote:

    Always enjoyed watching you on the wing at wolves, still had the pace of a 20 year old! You became a cult figure in those couple of years and I was gutted to see you leave at the time, get down to walsall or vale, there's still life in you yet I'm sure! Good luck with the future anyway Micky regardless of what you decide to do, on behalf of the Wolves faithful.

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  • 7. At 10:38am on 12 May 2010, UPTHEBLADES wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 8. At 10:41am on 12 May 2010, RossOwl wrote:

    All the best Micky, enjoy your retirement.

    A great professional and a great couple of seasons with the Owls despite our relegation.
    If we'd had a squad all working as hard as you then I dont think we would be playing League One football next season.

    Good luck in the future.

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  • 9. At 10:48am on 12 May 2010, KirkstallOwl wrote:

    Good luck for the future. You had a big impact at S6 (especially during the first few months of your loan spell, where you were our stand out player), shame you didn't have more game time since Easter. Also, well done for the donation to Sheffield's Children Hospital. Not many in your position would do the same. All the best

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  • 10. At 10:48am on 12 May 2010, derrysdouble wrote:

    Micheal have really enjoyed this blog, has been a great insight into a footballer life. Shocked a bit by your retirement, as a Leeds fan I speak for all us at ER when I say you were really well respected when you played for us, for the 100% you gave to the cause and you're probably the best left back most of us can remember seeing and we all hoped you come back to us someday when we got promoted as luck would have it, it was too late.

    All the best for whatever you choose to do in the future

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  • 11. At 10:49am on 12 May 2010, mancwhite wrote:

    Good luck fella.

    I really enjoyed seeing you play in the shirt of Leeds United.

    A good solid pro.

    Hope things work out for you.

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  • 12. At 10:51am on 12 May 2010, Custodian wrote:

    Good luck, Sir. You've enjoyed an excellent career. You can't plan these things but I'll bet you wish you could've gone out on a high.

    Surely you won't want to stop playing completely. Would you consider taking part in masters tournaments, veterans games and charity matches. Just something to keep the belly away!

    All the best.

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  • 13. At 10:58am on 12 May 2010, Ant Fossard wrote:

    "Surely if you have been in the game for 20 years you know most things already."

    Surely if you have been in the game for 20 years you know that the game is constantly changing, and even after 50 years in the game, or in any walk of life, there is always something new to learn.

    That minor gripe apart, I've really enjoyed your blogs and hope you go on to have success in whichever path you decide to take.

    Good Luck.

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  • 14. At 11:02am on 12 May 2010, Crouchy_the_Owl wrote:

    Good luck for the future Mr Gray. I'll echo what other Wednesday fans have said in that your whole-hearted performances, 100% commitment and no little skill will be remembered for years to come. Owls fans have always loved grafters with a genuine desire to win who give their all for the shirt and you certainly fit that category.

    My 6 year old son was most upset when I told him you wouldn't be playing for us next season replying with an exasperated "Why?" - he still maintains that you're the quickest player he's seen, even willing to back you with his pocket money in a race against JJ!

    Once again all the best and thanks for an enjoyable and informative blog throughout this testing season.

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  • 15. At 11:04am on 12 May 2010, christoker wrote:

    sorry that the retirement couldn't been on a high note with clinching safety but you have had a wonderful career and should look back with pride! the blog has been a good read most weeks and will be missed next season, wish you well for the future!

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  • 16. At 11:06am on 12 May 2010, Alex wrote:

    Michael,

    Thanks for these blogs, it's been a real insight! I hope you get a job on the World CUp and next year on 5ive Live. If you do I hope the Beeb let you do the blog still as it would be really interesting to read about the life of a pundit. Looking forward to seeing you on MOTD as well!

    Yhanks for all your hard work and dedication to the mighty Owls and even though you aren't from Sheffield I'm sure we (the fans & club) will remain special to you! I'm sure the young players have learnt a lot from you so thank you for that as well.


    Good luck in whatever you do in the future and I do hope to see you at Hillsborough on occasion, especially when we get back to the Championshi & Premiership!

    Alex

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  • 17. At 11:07am on 12 May 2010, Rob wrote:

    Mickey

    All the very best for the future, it was a privelige to have you at S6 and, obviously, I'm as sad as you that it wasn't a happier end to your career. I know from my Mackem mates that you're held in high esteem there, too, so I'm sure you'll be welcomed back at the SOL as often as you like. I'm sure you'll always get a great reception any time you come back to Hillsborough, too.
    Enjoy your holiday and whatever comes next.

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  • 18. At 11:08am on 12 May 2010, teleco wrote:

    Been a great read all season Michael ta.
    Just wondered if yu could shed some light on why you think it was such a miserable season at s6? Relegation came as no surprise to any of us who watch the lads week in week out. I knew we were down after watching the games against Ipswich at home and Reading away..
    Also I know you are close to Frannie Jeffers, how has he coped with being such a huge disappointment and do players have any guilt taking money from a club when they are giving nothing back as some have done this season at SWFC?

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  • 19. At 11:12am on 12 May 2010, Trevor Habeshaw wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 20. At 11:13am on 12 May 2010, oxonmackem wrote:

    All the best Micky, many fond memories of your times at Sunderland, allways looked out for you afterwards, good luck

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  • 21. At 11:14am on 12 May 2010, carterthegreat wrote:

    "Surely if you have been in the game for 20 years you know most things already."

    That's why managers like players-turn-managers like Zola, Keane, Ince, etc have yet to be proven successful. Just being a top footballer doesn't mean you would know everything about the game and know how to manage a team.

    Managers who never made it as players like Mourinho and Benitez have proved that it's not neccessary to have a successful player footballing career to become a top manager. Both Mourinho and Benitez along with the likes of Guardiola has shown that backroom experience at a lower level has been beneficially along with any neccessary coaching qualifications.

    Good luck for the future :)

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  • 22. At 11:15am on 12 May 2010, Blackcat5573 wrote:

    Good Luck with what ever you do in the final Michael.

    I've been a Sundelrand fan for forty years and you were part of the some of the best years I've experienced!

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  • 23. At 11:16am on 12 May 2010, Safc_1973 wrote:

    Well done Mickey fantastic Career. Even the missed penalty turned out to be a blessing in the end for us.
    Get yourself back up here and support the lads.

    If you do get on motd gave shearer a slap from me. haha

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  • 24. At 11:18am on 12 May 2010, MackemLad wrote:

    All the best on the future Mickey. Probably the best fullback I have seen at Sunderland in my lifetime. You gave us some great memories and I wish you all the best for the future

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  • 25. At 11:28am on 12 May 2010, ThatJohnHarkesGoal wrote:

    You're an absolute credit to the game Michael. I suppose its never a good time for a footballer to decide when to retire. A decision made easier if its on the back of relegation maybe? I'm slightly surprised by your decision, there is obviously still plenty in the tank but I presume the changing of clubs/cities can become tedious towards the end.
    Your blog has been a great read and im sure a future in the media awaits you. Its a case of one door closing and another opening I guess. A change in career almost. The thing I admire most about you is your commitment to the things that you do. For any footballer to keep themselves in such good condition until mid to late thirties shows a real passion and desire for the game. Especially for those of you who drop down a league or two.
    Hopefully this fantastic gesture from you for the Sheffield Childrens Hospital will have brought along other opportunities for you. I wish you all the best in your future projects mate.
    I hope you enjoyed playing for Wednesday. Great to of had you at our club.
    UTO

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  • 26. At 11:35am on 12 May 2010, allufc wrote:

    As a Leeds fan I just wanted to say thank you for your efforts for us at ER and wish you luck in anything you do in the future.

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  • 27. At 11:44am on 12 May 2010, davidjc34 wrote:

    Micky,

    Good luck in your retirement. You will always be well remembered by the black cats.

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  • 28. At 11:46am on 12 May 2010, Lordcellmark wrote:

    I wish you all the luck Michael with whatever direction your life takes you. Thankyou for the blog, I enjoyed reading it. Enjoy the time with your family and many thanks for the service to SWFC. I suspect you will be invited back as one of those ex-players who come on at half-time down at Hillsborough and I am 100% you will receive a very warm welcome. Good luck.

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  • 29. At 11:59am on 12 May 2010, Another_Deluded_Geordie wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 30. At 12:06pm on 12 May 2010, northern-hammer wrote:

    "The lows were missing the penalty for Sunderland against Charlton in 998 in the then First Division play-off final against Charlton at Wembley."

    I'm not surprised you're retiring after over a thousand years of playing time! ;-)

    Good luck with the future Michael. Hope it all goes well.

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  • 31. At 12:26pm on 12 May 2010, Rangers_Lad wrote:

    Best of luck mate....

    only blip on you career was playing for 'them', but i'll forgive you :-)

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  • 32. At 12:30pm on 12 May 2010, Petbramy wrote:

    Mickey,
    Best wishes - you'll always be part of my best memories of supporting Sunderland - what an exciting team! You'll also always remind me of that crap yellow away strip

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  • 33. At 12:32pm on 12 May 2010, Robert wrote:

    'Surely if you have been in the game for 20 years you know most things already.'

    Sadly this is a view too many coaches hold - 'I've been doing it this way for years, I don't need to know why'. If you don't know why then how will you adapt for different learning styles, abilities, situations. I have been through level 2 quals in two sports and was amazed at how much I learnt despite having played them both for nearly 30 years.

    Have a go, you may surprise yourself.

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  • 34. At 12:32pm on 12 May 2010, Rankis wrote:

    All the best Michael, but to be brutally honest I thought you had hung up your boots a few years ago.

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  • 35. At 12:34pm on 12 May 2010, chris wrote:

    Michael

    As a Celtic fan i was disappointed you didnt stay longer as you did really well up here in your loan spell, so all the best for the future, i'm sure you'll be a successful pundit!

    But i also wanted to say thanks, a few years ago when you were staying at the Milton hotel in glasgow, my missus Jann asked you to get a Celtic top signed by the team, the likes of Larsson, Sutton, Hartson etc.....real top players....unlike the present team.

    Much appreciated mate, good luck

    Chris

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  • 36. At 12:36pm on 12 May 2010, CollingwoodFTM wrote:

    Good luck in your retirement.

    Thanks for all the memories Mickey, the goals, the cross for SNQ at SJP and most of all the hair.

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  • 37. At 1:01pm on 12 May 2010, The_Real_Guvnor wrote:

    'The lows were missing the penalty for Sunderland against Charlton in 998 in the then First Division play-off final against Charlton at Wembley.'

    998?

    Are you sure you are only 35?

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  • 38. At 1:09pm on 12 May 2010, boils wrote:

    You may always be a Mackem to me but I have enjoyed this blog alot (almost as much as your conviction for public urination which I am sure you'd like to forget about! ;). As someone who loves Sheffield too, unlucky there and good luck in the future.

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  • 39. At 1:10pm on 12 May 2010, Sledgejuju wrote:

    Like most hope you enjoy retirement and I hope you get a pundit job something like late kick off. It been a tough season and we will miss someone like you next season when we are playing at Exeter. You had a good innings and you have been very lucky playing for the clubs you have.
    If you do fancying coaching am sure some club would love to take on such a experiance person.

    If you cannot get back doing these blogs have you a twitter account?

    Good luck


    From another Wednesday fan




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  • 40. At 1:10pm on 12 May 2010, Nottm Owl wrote:

    Michael - its been great to see you play for The Owls. Personally I would have had you in the first 11 more often as we needed your skill,experience, and footballing intelligence this season, but that's not the way the manager saw it I guess.

    It was painful to see the team go down, but I've been going to Hillsborough for 40 years now, so I can take 'the long view' and I know things will soon be on the up again.

    I've enjoyed your blog - you are a model professional and a credit to the game. Honesty and integrity do seem in shorter supply in football these days, but you've got both in bucket loads.

    Best wishes for the future Michael whatever you decide to do next.

    John, a Nottingham Owl.

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  • 41. At 1:14pm on 12 May 2010, olie79 wrote:

    Hi Michael – all credit to you: a great blog and a great career – all the very best in whatever you choose to do. If rosenior and claridge can grab a job in punditry I’m sure you’ll have no troubles!

    Just one question – im sure all of us on this board would do pretty much anything to swap our careers with those of a pro footballer. Retirement, though, must be a bit of a comedown. I’m sure we can all think of players that have found it difficult to adapt to life post-football. is it pretty tough getting your head round the fact that it’s only a short career, that even heading into your late 20s you might feel your talents are on the wane, that you can’t perhaps do the things you did a few years ago? How do you do deal with that?

    Once again, all best for the future

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  • 42. At 1:17pm on 12 May 2010, makemdave wrote:

    Good luck for the future Mickey.
    We haven't had a decent left back at SAFC since you left. It was a pleasure watching you and AJ down the left side.

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  • 43. At 1:23pm on 12 May 2010, MarkandDeanoUTO wrote:

    Best of luck for the future Michael, it's a shame your career had to end on relegation but I'm sure everyone at Hillsborough would agree you were a great example of a professional. Maybe if we'd have seen some of the commitment you always showed towards the end of the season from the other players we wouldnt be facing Div 1!!

    Hope everything goes well for you.

    Mark and Deano.

    UTO.

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  • 44. At 1:42pm on 12 May 2010, freddawlanen wrote:

    As you love the game so much and I've no doubt that you've earned enough to be comfortable, if not rich for life, how about giving a little of your time to local schools or amateur teams?

    I'd expect that a man of your experience would be a god-send at that level, a level where any kind of help will be viewed in the same way as a truck load of money, ie very warmly.

    Good luck at whatever you choose to do.

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  • 45. At 2:01pm on 12 May 2010, rich_owl wrote:

    Michael - I would like to thank you for your efforts at Sheffield Wednesday, as im sure all other Wednesday fans would too! Enjoyed reading your blogs.
    All the best for the future!

    Up The Owls!

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  • 46. At 2:02pm on 12 May 2010, Kieran Mullins wrote:

    Good luck Mickey. I'm a Wednesday fan but saw a lot of the Black Cats in the late '90s and thoroughly enjoyed your contribution to the successes of the that great team - Summerbee, Johnson, Quinny, Phillips, Ball et al.
    All the best with your continuing your media career. A spot on MOTD would be good - get rid of that boring old guard.

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  • 47. At 2:10pm on 12 May 2010, ElBuho wrote:

    Good luck Micky, I've enjoyed reading your posts here and always appreciated the hard work you put in for us, especially compared to a certain dutch left-winger!

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  • 48. At 2:12pm on 12 May 2010, Daveblueowls wrote:

    A gentleman, and a scholar, anyone with any sense would sign you up to talk about the game (though speaking from experience, not many people in television have that much sense!). You've been a credit to your profession, and I'm delighted that you've been a Sheffield Wednesday player. I know it's been yet another tough season for us fans. But your attitude and endeavour was always first class. I just wish we'd had you in your prime. Good luck with the future, and thanks for sharing the season with us, even if it has been so disappointing for us.

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  • 49. At 2:21pm on 12 May 2010, Looking forwad to Yeovil away Blade wrote:

    Blades fan here but nonetheless I wish you the absolute best of a deserved playing retirement. You seem one of the few genuine and decent players left in the game and your donations to the Hospital demonstrate this. Best of luck in whatever you decide to do next and I think it was a mistake on Wednesday's part in not playing you in the final few games where your experience would have been priceless.
    UTB!!

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  • 50. At 2:28pm on 12 May 2010, KirkstallOwl wrote:

    Very interesting blog again. I must say I don't think you should let four years getting your coaching badges stop you if you actually want to do that. Real learning comes from a combination of experience and reflection. Is it still possible to coach without them? (Shearer, Southgate etc)

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  • 51. At 2:28pm on 12 May 2010, James F wrote:

    Shame to see you retiring but I saw it coming even if we stayed up.

    Hope this isn;t the last we hear from you. I may not read much online but your stuff tends to be one of those I make a point of reading.

    This of all your posts is maybe the most poignient (apologies for appauling spelling) and I can guess the hardest to write. 35 and reitiring from your job/life/hobby. It's not easy.

    I still have a career ahead (not in football but thats irrelevant) so can't even think about what it's like to end it.

    Glad to see all proceeds going to the Childrens Hospital. Amazing to think a club with roughly 25M of debt can give up their shirt sponsor for charity. It's a credit to SWFC and you giving your fee for this to the hospital is a credit to your good self.

    Best wishes whatever you end up doing now that your boots are tucked away somewhere safe. Once a Wednesdayite, always a wednesdayite soa ll the best mate!

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  • 52. At 2:34pm on 12 May 2010, David Long wrote:

    Good luck Mickey,

    Having watched you for many years at Sunderland it's sad to see you retire. You have left us with some fantastic memories, for me personally your partnership with Allan Johnston was some of the best wing play I have ever seen and at times, just breathtaking.

    Most Sunderland fans would agree you were the best left-back we have ever had.

    As one of our own we are proud to see you have become as popular at your subsequent clubs as you were at home in Sunderland. Great career, great player and a great professional. All the best.

    David.

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  • 53. At 2:39pm on 12 May 2010, Brummerdickens wrote:

    You're old.

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  • 54. At 3:07pm on 12 May 2010, collie21 wrote:

    Focus on the positives and don't say NO to anything football related, give it all a try, find your level and forge on from there on.

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  • 55. At 3:12pm on 12 May 2010, bigrbuk wrote:

    Thanks for everything Micky; I wish we'd seen more of you over the last few weeks of the season, but your support and well wishes for Wednesday are very gratefully received.

    All the best in whatever you decide to do in the future, as a decent, honest and hard-working player, I hope you get everything you deserve.

    Enjoy!

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  • 56. At 3:13pm on 12 May 2010, Bill Shewan wrote:

    Hi Micky,
    I would like to wish you and your family all the very best for the future. As a Sunderland fan your displays have given me an awful lot of pleasure down the years. I had the pleasure of meeting you briefly in the players lounge at Molineux many years ago after a 1-0 win for Sunderland courtesy of a Kevin Ball goal I believe. Niall Quinn was still playing for the team which shows you how long ago it was. You showed a genuine interest as to why myself and my best friend (a Mag supporter, would you believe!)were down in Wolverhampton that day. You will know that you will always be greatly welcomed at the SoL whenever you go...........perhaps there might even be a post there......have you made any enquiries?
    Anyway........all the very best of luck and good health to you in the future!

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  • 57. At 3:21pm on 12 May 2010, Sir T. Fireball wrote:

    Always rated you highly since I saw you at Sunderland Mickey and if Wednesday had signed players of your calibre a decade ago we might not be in the mess we find ourselves in now. I also thought you probably deserved more than the three England caps you got given the dearth of left side players at the time. As I say it was a shame we didn't have you in the blue and white back when you were in your pomp, but you always seemed to give all you had for the cause whenever I've seen you play over the last couple of seasons. Enjoy your retirement!

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  • 58. At 3:21pm on 12 May 2010, simon ritter wrote:

    "We got the new stadium and were playing in front of 48,000 every week, which was incredible." Indeed it would have been. Count the extremely rare occasions that happened on the fingers of one hand; you won't run out of digits. Good luck with the media career, Michael, you are already showing the necessary skills in hyperbole and inaccuracy.

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  • 59. At 3:27pm on 12 May 2010, AndyParsons wrote:

    All very, very best Micky. You were a credit to the blue and white shirt in recent seasons, and not too many of those players came out with much credit. You added class to our team and the impact you had really helped us out. I was chuffed when we signed you as I have always kept an eye on you over your long career. In whatever venture you which to follow, all the very best of luck for you and your family. You will always be welcomed down at S6 and all your other previous clubs.

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  • 60. At 3:29pm on 12 May 2010, lufcforever1986 wrote:

    All the best Micky, if you change your mind between now and August there'll be a shirt at ER waiting!!

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  • 61. At 3:48pm on 12 May 2010, Sporting Fare wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 62. At 5:08pm on 12 May 2010, notdolly wrote:

    Have enjoyed reading your blogs and you seem like an intelligent chap. However, 20 years in the game does not mean you know anything, let alone all there is to know about coaching. I'm sure 4 years training could teach you much more about the science behind coaching which certainly wouldn't have been available 20 years ago. There is evidence to suggest that being an ex-player has little or no correlation to how effective a coach you will be. If you want to coach, you will have to bite the bullet and do the qualifications - you're just one of us now and don't deserve any special treatment. Even the most experienced practitioners in all walks of lives require additional training and qualifications in order to succeed. Sorry for the rant - I do genuinely enjoy your blogs, it just came across as a bit arrogant to think that you don't need the qualifications.

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  • 63. At 5:13pm on 12 May 2010, CelticVillaChelsea wrote:

    Good luck in the future. Always liked you when you were at celtic and i've followed you're progress since then and read everyone of your blogs

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  • 64. At 6:08pm on 12 May 2010, dicky wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 65. At 6:16pm on 12 May 2010, michael wrote:

    Thanks mick for the great service you gave to wednesday. Im sure you enjoyed playing for wednesday after playing for smaller clubs such as blackburn leeds and sunderland. Its a pity you are not 20 years younger as we would love to have you at wednesday!

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  • 66. At 6:25pm on 12 May 2010, Elliot wrote:

    Thank you Micky.

    I loved watching you at Sunderland and wish you well in whatever you do next.

    You will always be a legend at Sunderland and were a credit to the club.

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  • 67. At 8:27pm on 12 May 2010, saintmichel wrote:

    Frankly and Sadly, I know you only from Eidos Championship Manager season 98/99 because whole my life I was Italian Serie A fan. You were fantastic player in this game and I do regret that I have not seen you in action. Reading this article I am sure You love football. So I wish you have a good time on your retirement and make your retirement very active.

    All the best

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  • 68. At 8:45pm on 12 May 2010, Luke91 wrote:

    Great blog as usual Michael, I hope you enjoy whatever you go on to do in your "retirement" and I'm sad to see the blog go as well. Despite Wednesday going down this season at least you took it to the very end of the campaign and didn't give up fighting until it was too late, as usual the Wednesday fans and players gave it their all and you should be proud of that.
    Good luck in wherever life takes you next!

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  • 69. At 8:49pm on 12 May 2010, The Good Dr_M wrote:

    Mighty Mag - jeez, what's your problem? The epitomey of everything wrong with the modern football fan - you could attempt to show a little respect to someone who clearly has had a very difficult piece to write - Michael played for Sunderland, clearly the club means a lot to him - you could show some grace - You've sold St james out every week this season I take then.

    Really, not the blog to start dishing out half baked editorial advice.

    Good luck Michael, it must be a tough time and no doubt will take a bit of adjustment. Still, retired at 36 - every cloud - won't find many who wouldn't bite a hand off for an offer like that.

    Surely the game will call you back in some shape or form - media or otherwise - I mean if Robbie Savage and Jermain Defoe can get regular coloumns in the newspapers I'm sure you won't struggle to pick up some work.

    Never been a fan of anyone you've played for but enjoyed your blog - hopefully another player will pick up where you've left off - enjoyed the truthful insights.

    All the best.

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  • 70. At 9:01pm on 12 May 2010, Peter wrote:

    Very good luck in the future. I'm sure you'll have a career in the media; you've always seemed to be one of the more articulate footballers.

    Not wanting to depress you, but you have only 17 years on football and other 30 before you really retire and draw your pension. If 1983 seems a long time ago, imagine 2040.

    Will England win the World Cup by 2040?
    No, I don't think so either.

    Will England even hold the competition before then?
    No, I don't think so either.

    Will Sheffield United get to the premiership by then?
    No, I don't think so either.

    You posted this only yesterday and already have 67 comments - you must be pleased.

    All the best...

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  • 71. At 9:09pm on 12 May 2010, bald-in-guelph wrote:

    Good luck Michael. I've enjoyed reading your blog immensely this season. Whatever you do from here on in, just give it the same as you did as a player and you'll be alright.

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  • 72. At 9:15pm on 12 May 2010, Paul Mudditt wrote:

    Good Luck Mickey, you were and will remain a legend at Sunderland, best of luck for the future.

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  • 73. At 9:42pm on 12 May 2010, Stephen Bullard wrote:

    Dear Michael,

    Being a Blackburn Rovers fan, I fondly remember your days raiding down the wing for us. Whilst I appreciate that each player has to make a discision some time about hanging up their boots. Better for it to be of their choosing rather than injury etc; so Best of Luck for the future.

    I may add that, I have really enjoyed reading your blog this season, so you may like to stay in the game by turning to media. Your blogs have been great by giving a Professional's incite into the game we love.

    Good luck in the future, whatever you do.

    Stephen

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  • 74. At 10:27pm on 12 May 2010, safcat wrote:

    Good luck whatever you decide to do.
    many a season enjoyed at sol watching you, Treasured memories.
    One of the sunderland greats.

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  • 75. At 10:46pm on 12 May 2010, used2beprofi wrote:

    the hardest part of retiring for me was the different kind of hours you put in working after sport. not that it's so difficult, just different. the body is no longer the priority. i remember my first "job" after and telling my new boss i was going to relax and put my legs up for an hour after lunch. they thought i was joking...

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  • 76. At 10:49pm on 12 May 2010, rover6 wrote:

    Hi Mickey.

    A Rovers fan here who would briefly and fondly reminisce about your Rovers days. I remember your debut for us against Chelsea, in what turned out to be a disappointing defeat. However, us fans were relieved to finally see a Rovers left back who had a bit of pace. Our hopes were not misplaced place because you went all to impress with your skill, pace and all-round game. Perhaps, not the greatest defensively (I hope I'm not being harsh), you usually made up for this with your attacking flair.

    You are definitely regarded alongside the likes of Lucas Neill and Stephen Warnock as Rovers' best full backs of recent history.

    All the best with the greyhound racing!

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  • 77. At 11:16pm on 12 May 2010, Michael Gray wrote:

    reply to all,

    Thankyou all very much for your kind words and replys.

    It really was a privelage to play for some fantastic clubs in my career,

    I have lots of great memories wich will stay with me forever.

    Writing this blog has brought back to me how wonderful this game really is.
    There is passion in your replys and it shows how much you all love the clubs you support.

    Its been great interacting with you, whether through good times or bad.

    I hope I helped in giving you an insight into a professional footballers life.

    A couple of thankyous for colin and trevor who helped me write my blogs throughout the season, Really appreciated your help fellas.

    And finally, Thankyou once again to everone who replied to the blogs.

    Its been a blast and good luck to all of your clubs nrxt season.

    Come on ENGLAND !!!

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  • 78. At 00:04am on 13 May 2010, FTMRAKI wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 79. At 00:43am on 13 May 2010, jimster66 wrote:

    Michael, you brought a touch of class to Sheffield Wednesday in what turned out to be the swansong of your career. Many thanks for giving us the fans some good times over the years and to be one of the players who genuinely made a difference. All the best and hope you will come back to Hillsborough and see better times.

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  • 80. At 03:01am on 13 May 2010, Geordie2004 wrote:

    All the best with whatever you do next, Michael. After a slow start, I've mostly enjoyed reading your blogs here, so perhaps you should consider the possibility of keeping them going.

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  • 81. At 03:10am on 13 May 2010, malaymac wrote:


    Mickey, from a mackem exiled in Malaysia, I must say a big thank you for so many happy memories you gave us at Sunderland.

    Your enthusiasm and energy has always been impressive. This is obvious from the huge positive response received from so many supporters of the various clubs you've played for and from some, who just like a good, honest player.

    But, where you really score big time and when you're such a credit to yourself and your profession is when you give something back, as you are doing now with this latest charity work.

    Well done Mickey, you've been marvellous to watch over the years.

    Whatever you end up doing, I hope it proves to be a great success.

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  • 82. At 08:52am on 13 May 2010, NZOWL wrote:

    All the best Michael from the New Zealand Owls supporters club. Thanks for all your efforts in what must have been a tough season for you.

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  • 83. At 10:09am on 13 May 2010, rbowl wrote:

    Michael

    Thank you for your time at Hillsborough. You say you were frustrated over the last six months, but not as frustrated as I was watching you warm up week in, week out in front of where I sit in the South Stand only to never see you get the nod to try and influence a team that was well and truly in a rut.

    If you have the chance before you leave Hillsborough, please sit them all down and tell them that you have played 500 games over 20 years and represented your country because you understood that football is all about controlling and passing the ball, tackling and moving into space. But most of all it is about being confident and comfortable with the football at your feet irrespective of who you play for and where you are in the league. It is the fundamental part of a footballers job, but so many of the current crop seem to consistently struggle with it.

    Personally, my memory of you at S6 will be the first 25 minutes of the second half at Bramall Lane this season when you orchestrated what should have been one of the finest comebacks in Sheffield derby history

    All the best

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  • 84. At 1:43pm on 13 May 2010, tommyas11 wrote:

    Good to have you down at Hillsborough, shame you didn't play more towards the end. Odd desicion by the manager. All the best for the future.

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  • 85. At 2:20pm on 13 May 2010, Fizzoid wrote:

    Well, good luck in what ever you end up doing next Michael. Your blogs have been an interesting read, so maybe there is a possibility of one or two more, along the lines of what a 'footballer does next'?
    Ciao!

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  • 86. At 3:09pm on 13 May 2010, Montees wrote:

    Mickey, guts. You had them bonny lad. Never been a fan of teams you played for - infact a rival supporter of one of those teams based in the North East. Nevertheless, an admirer all the same. Good look with whatever path you take from now.
    Work over at the world cup you say? I know you've hung up the boots but haway man d'ya not fancy deputising for that sack of cole, Ashley?
    Come on ENGLAND!!!

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  • 87. At 6:00pm on 13 May 2010, Chrisso93 wrote:

    Good luck Michael! Wish you all the best!
    I always see you walking your little dog, or going for a run, you live near me :) Haha.

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  • 88. At 6:29pm on 13 May 2010, Ben wrote:

    thanks Michael Gray you been one of the best footballers to watch you really inspired me to play football and i look up to you as a player. thanks again and Good luck and all the best.

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  • 89. At 9:02pm on 13 May 2010, Joe wrote:

    really enjoyed reading your blog over the season michael and despite being even older than me youve put in a good shift for us, even some of my celtic supporting friends have commented on that. all the best and good luck for whatever you have planned for the future.

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  • 90. At 9:33pm on 13 May 2010, kirstie wrote:

    All the best you will be missed at hillsborough, ps great goal against Preston earlier in the season

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  • 91. At 10:35pm on 13 May 2010, kerrie owl wrote:

    Hey Mickey as a SWFC fan I have really enjoyed your blogs this season. Thank you for all your efforts in the blue and white stripes,its such a shame it ended the way it did. You are a model professional and will be sadly missed. All the very best for the future Mickey

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  • 92. At 11:49am on 14 May 2010, Leicsterowl wrote:

    Good luck with what ever you choose to do, I wish we had seen you play a bit more this season - we needed a calm head like yours from time to time.

    Really enjoyed your blog all the best for the future

    UTO

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  • 93. At 12:54pm on 15 May 2010, Tom11 wrote:

    Good luck Mickey,
    We needed you in the last games of the season, all the best with your career in the media and well done on replying to pretty much every comment all season. It's pretty cool that you take the time to reply to them its a big deal to the fans, well done.

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  • 94. At 8:06pm on 18 May 2010, James wrote:

    Good Lucky Michael.

    1 thing though: MK Dons

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  • 95. At 5:31pm on 19 May 2010, ChoiTheOwl wrote:

    Cheers Mikey, you really put in some good performances in the first half of the season, my highlight was the belting free kick against Preston, shame we couldnt win that game like we fully deserved to!!

    All the best for the future!

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  • 96. At 10:32am on 20 May 2010, patjowl wrote:

    Best of luck Michael. Hope to hear more of you on 5-live punditing next season!

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