After 18 years, 509 games and 168 goals, striker hangs up his boots

Former Bristol Rovers, West Bromwich Albion, Wigan Athletic and Blackburn Rovers striker Jason Roberts has announced his immediate retirement from the game.

Jason Roberts has announced his retirement from professional football after struggling with a persistent hip injury which has seen him unable to play since December 2012.

His last ever game was for Reading against Southampton in the Premier League so at least he got to bow out at the top level but without knowing it, Roberts will be devastated to be forced into retirement.

His injury has kept him out for nearly 18 months and although he remained on the books at Reading he hasn't been able to play at all under Nigel Adkins. The former Grenada international has already been making strides as a pundit appearing on BBC Radio 5Live and Match of the Day and he is expected to carry on with that work. He will also continue to focus on his charity The Jason Roberts Foundation.

Roberts trained with Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur as a young boy but failed to win contracts with either, and it was Hayes that gave him his first real chance after his uncle; a certain Cyrille Regis arranged a trial for him. He helped Hayes into the Conference in 1996 (the club since dissolved in 2007 and merged to form Hayes & Yeading).

After five goals in his first three games of the 1997-1998 season Wolverhampton Wanderers spent £250,000 to bring him to the club. Loan spells at Torquay United and Bristol City followed before he joined Bristol Rovers permanently and it was here where he showed he could produce the goods in the Football League.

West Brom then broke their transfer record in 2000 to take Jason Roberts away from Bristol Rovers splashing out £2 million and giving him his first chance in Divison One (Championship). He struck up a great partnership with Lee Hughes as The Baggies reached the play-offs in his first season. Promotion would come the year after but it was a year in which Roberts broke his metatarsal three times. He only managed three goals in the top flight in 2002-2003 and was loaned out to Portsmouth the following season for six months.

Wigan Athletic signed him in January 2004 as they too broke their transfer record. It took him just 35 seconds to score on his debut as he led them to a 4-2 victory over Preston North End (unfortunately a moment I remember all too well). He earned promotion with Wigan the following season and scored their first ever Premier League goal.

Roberts was a key player for the Latics in their debut season in the Premier League and he also scored a last-minute goal against Arsenal to send Wigan through to the Carling Cup final. His form would earn him a move to Blackburn Rovers in 2006.

He would go on to spend five-and-a-half years with Rovers, in which time he also got his first taste of European football. He scored two goals in six games in the Europa League. He then joined Reading in January 2012 and played a big part in their end of season promotion push as he contributed six goals.

It would be the third time he had achieved promotion to the top flight but only the first that he won the title in doing so.

Jason Roberts particularly in the Football League would always be a striker the opposition would dread coming up against. A fantastic player at that level who showed he was more than capable in the Premier League as well despite not being as prolific. He gained a lot of fans at Wigan and Blackburn and his retirement will bring back a lot of memories for fans of his other clubs.

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