Hunter Ports Newcastle Jets forward Michael Bridges has announced he will end his illustrious playing career following the conclusion of the Jets’ 2013/14 Hyundai A-League campaign.
The 35-year-old played 19 seasons as a professional, competing in all four tiers of the English football league system, before finishing his career in Australia with the Jets.
After five seasons at Newcastle, 65 appearances and 12 goals for the Club, Bridges said he felt now was the right time to hang up his boots.
“When you play professionally for as long as I have you see the highs and lows of football,” Bridges said.
“Thankfully I’ve been lucky enough to have great support around me throughout my career and I’ve loved and cherished every minute of it.
“Having the opportunity to play football for a living is something that I never took for granted and I’m extremely grateful for all the experiences I’ve had along the way.”
The former England U-21 international started his career with Sunderland, where he made 79 appearances, scoring 16 goals, and twice helped the Black Cats gain promotion to the English Premier League.
Bridges was signed by Leeds United ahead of the 1999/00 English Premier League season for a £5 million transfer fee.
In his first season at Elland Road, Bridges scored 19 Premiership goals including a debut hat-trick against Southampton.
Bridges also helped his side finish third in the Premiership, qualify for the Champions League and reach the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup.
Bridges went on to have stints at Newcastle United, Bolton Wanderers, Bristol City, Carlisle United, Hull City, Sydney FC and Milton Keynes Dons before signing with the Jets.
Bridges will play his final home match when Newcastle take on Adelaide United in a must-win clash at Hunter Stadium on Friday.
“I’ve had five fantastic years at the Jets and that’s a credit to all the fans, the players I’ve played alongside and the staff who have been here along the way,” Bridges said.
“Everybody has made me feel so welcome and this is a place I can now call home.
“I’m looking forward to playing in front of our Members at Hunter Stadium one last time on Friday and hopefully helping us to a win to keep our finals hopes alive.”
Jets CEO Robbie Middleby paid tribute to Bridges and thanked him for his contribution during his five seasons as a Newcastle Jets player.
“Michael has enjoyed a distinguished playing career in both England and Australia and on behalf of the Club I’d like to congratulate on his achievements,” Middleby said.
“Since joining the Jets, Michael has been a huge asset to the Club both on and off the field and a fantastic ambassador for football in Newcastle and Australia.”
Newcastle Jets v Adelaide United
Friday, April 11
Tickets available from PROticket.