The youngest of the retirements in this list, at the early age of 27, the Swindon-born striker was expected to have a promising future at both club level and international level before suffering a serious ankle injury. After learning his trade at Crewe, Ashton moved to Norwich and helped them impress in the Premier League before their inevitable relegation in 2005. Ashton made an instant return to the top flight after signing for West Ham in January 2006, one week after he was left out of the Norwich side to face the Hammers in the FA Cup, a selection that was vital as West Ham went on to make the final of the competition and Ashton was eligible to play and was a crucial goal-scorer along the way for West Ham. However, while on international duty, Ashton suffered a serious ankle injury after a challenge from Shaun Wright-Phillips that eventually ended his career. The lack of recovery from that challenge forced West Ham to apply for £10 million compensation for Ashton’s retirement from the FA.
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