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Page last updated at 21:44 GMT, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 22:44 UK

Huckerby to retire from football

Darren Huckerby
Darren Huckerby was named MLS newcomer of the year last season

Former Norwich City forward Darren Huckerby is to retire from professional football due to a hip problem.

The 33-year-old has undergone surgery after picking up the hip injury playing for San Jose Earthquakes in the US Major League.

"Now is the right time to call it a day," the much-travelled former Carrow Road favourite told BBC Radio Norfolk.

"I've decided that, at nearly 34, with a dodgy hip, it wasn't worth continuing and not playing as well as I could."

It is only 15 months since Huckerby was let go by Norwich, who were then relegated to League One in their first season without him. And Canaries fans had hoped he might one day return after proving a big success in the States.

But San Jose announced at the weekend that his season is over because of surgery, thereby curtailing his contract. And he has decided to pack in while he is still on top of his game.

"The surgeon was happy enough that I could carry on and get to a decent standard," said Huckerby.

"But my game has always been about running past people and, as soon as I can't do that, I knew I was in a bit of trouble."

Nottingham-born Huckerby, who started his career with Lincoln City, enjoyed his first big move when signed by Newcastle United boss Kevin Keegan for £500,000 as a 19-year-old in November 1995.

But he made just two substitute appearances, as well as spending a month on loan with Millwall, before becoming Gordon Strachan's first signing for Coventry City for £1m a year later.

After three successful years with the Sky Blues, he moved on to David O'Leary's Leeds United for £4m in August 1999.

But he had an unsettled time at Elland Road before rejoining his old Newcastle boss Keegan again at Manchester City for £3m in December 2000.

He then had loan spells with home town club Nottingham Forest, followed by Norwich before signing a more permanent contract at Carrow Road for £750,000 on Boxing Day 2003.

He made 203 appearances for Norwich, taking his English career record to 134 goals in 501 games before moving to the States last year, where he score nine times in 28 games for the Earthquakes. But he admits that his heart remains in Norfolk.

"Sometimes you just kind of click at a place," he said. "And that was certainly the case for me at Norwich.

"I pretty soon knew I wanted to end my career here.

"Maybe it shouldn't have ended like that. But my only real regret was that they got relegated.

"And I truly believed that if I'd been there I could have helped.

"I've had some great times. I was lucky enough to play in every division and the Champions League.

"Hopefully I can pass that sort of experience down to other players and I would love to do that one day with Norwich.

"I don't see myself as a manager. More someone who can work with 16 to 22 year-olds and improve them as players and people."

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