Unbelievable: Birmingham City figure retires with ‘immediate effect’

A player that left Birmingham City just last summer has called time on his playing career – despite still being an active player.

George Friend, a former defender for Birmingham City, announced his “immediate” retirement from professional football.

The 36-year-old was rumored to be retiring at the conclusion of the 2023–2024 season and has been linked to a position in the recruitment department of Bristol Rovers. With 12 games left in his current club’s season, he has made the decision to put up his boots and will now take on a new position with them.

He has been named the League One team’s new Director of Football, and he will start work there right away. Friend ended a 19-year playing career with the Gas, where he had started his football career when he was nine years old. He was cast into his first role right away.

“Every single person on my journey has taught me something,” Friend stated in a statement that was uploaded to the official Bristol Rovers website.

“Thank you to everyone who made it possible for me to accomplish more than I ever could have dreamed of. Fans, owners, employees, managers, and teammates…

George Friend: Bristol Rovers sign former Birmingham City defender - BBC  Sport

“At this point, I’m still driven and motivated to be successful in my work at Rovers. It feels fitting that I would end my football career there because that is where I began playing as a child.

After being cut loose by Birmingham City in the summer, Friend joined Bristol Rovers and has made 12 appearances for the West Country club so far this season. 52 appearances were made during his three years at St Andrew’s after being brought in by former Middlesbrough manager Aitor Karanka. Having played in just seven games during the 2022–2023 season, he was one of six players discharged last year.

Middlesbrough, where Friend played for most of his career, is among the other teams included on his resume. He made 299 appearances for them and was granted 25 Premier League games with the Boro. In addition to playing for Millwall, Southend United, Doncaster Rovers, and Scunthorpe United, he made eight appearances for Wolves.

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