Blackburn defender Stig Inge Bjornebye today announced his retirement.
The 33-year-old Norwegian has decided to hang up his boots on medical advice following freak training-ground accident in April last year when he suffered a fractured eye socket.
“It was a terrible injury and presented me with a massive challenge, but I have always been positive I could overcome it,” said Bjornebye, who managed just one appearance for Rovers this season, against Wigan in the Worthington Cup quarter-final.
“The will has always been there, but in the end it has not proved realistic.
“I didn’t want to be just a footballer, I wanted to play at Premier League level twice a week.
“It’s clear now that’s not possible and I have a responsibility to myself, my family and my future.
“I don’t think there’s a football club in the world that could have been as supportive as Blackburn Rovers have been.
“Support has come from the players and staff at Brockhall, officials at Ewood and the fans. It’s all been very warm and kept me going through a very difficult time.”
Blackburn boss Graeme Souness brought the defender to England from Norwegian club Rosenborg when he was in charge at Liverpool in 1992.
He went on to be a regular in the Anfield line-up and was capped a total of 73 times for his country, playing at both the 1994 and 1998 World Cup finals.
Bjornebye teamed up again with Souness at Ewood Park in a cut-price switch during the summer of 2000 and went on to win the Worthington Cup at Cardiff last season.
Souness said: “It’s a very sad day. As far as I am concerned it could hardly be worse for Stig is the consummate dedicated professional.
“He is as good a professional as any I have worked with, I couldn’t name anybody better and he is fine role model and a proper, proper human being.
“Stig has had a wonderful career, its a great shame that it has to end with a freak training-ground accident as he felt, quite rightly, that he could have played longer.”