West Ham and England striker Dean Ashton has been forced to retire from professional football after failing to recover from a long term ankle injury.
The 26 year old began his career at Crewe Alexandra and moved to Norwich City before joining the Upton Park club for £7.25 million.
There are suggestions that he may sue Shaun Wright-Phillips who caused the injury during an England training session in August 2006.
“It’s a sad situation. He’s very young, very talented, to see such a player having to retire is bad,” said Hammers boss Gianfranco Zola.
“I feel for him – and I feel for me because I wonder what it would have been like to have a player like him in my squad.
“He would have made a big difference for us and that is my regret.”
Ashton scored19 goals in 56 appearances for West Ham and was capped once by England.