Bridges hangs up boots

Newcastle Jets captain Michael Bridges has announced his retirement from professional football effective immediately.

Newcastle Jets captain Michael Bridges has announced his retirement from professional football effective immediately.

The 32-year-old striker made over 200 appearances in the English Premier League, representing clubs such as Sunderland, Newcastle and Leeds.

Bridges, who joined the Jets in 2009, enjoyed a superb first year at EnergyAustralia Stadium, scoring six goals from 15 appearances and helping his side make a finals appearance the year after winning the wooden spoon.

Bridges became the club's first foreign-born skipper when he was appointed to the position at the start of 2010-11, but his campaign was hampered by an early knee injury and he never quite reached the heights of his first season with the Jets.

The likeable striker informed his teammates of his decision to retire on Friday afternoon, but will stay on with the Hyundai A-League side as their international football and business development manager.

"After great consideration it was a difficult to decision to make," Bridges said.

"However the opportunity to enter the next phase of my life is one that is too exciting not to take now whilst it is being offered."

"The opportunity to help develop the next group of footballers for the Jets and to join the (club owners) Tinkler Sports Group is really appealing."

Bridges is considered one of the of the Premier League's great unfulfilled talents, as injury prevented him reaching his best. Having made a multi-million pound move from Sunderland to Leeds in 1999, Bridges had produced 19 goals for United in his first season.

However a serious Achilles injury the following season seriously culled his ability and he didn't manage to score again for Leeds in four more seasons before leaving.

In this case, though, Bridges will stay involved with the Jets, with Newcastle board chairman Ray Baartz saying he's delighted the former striker would continue his involvement with the club.

"Michael is just a class act," Baartz said. "He is hugely respected by all at the Newcastle Jets."

"To have Michael to continue with the club in an off-field role not only is a great coup by the club, but speaks volumes for the direction the club is heading in."

In other Jets' news, former Sydney FC midfielder and North Queensland football manager Robbie Middleby will take over as Newcastle's chief executive officer after losing his job at North Queensland when the club was dropped from the competition.