Marcus Stewart’s final bow

Marcus Stewart

Marcus Stewart

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FORMER Sunderland striker Marcus Stewart (pictured) will bring the curtain down on his playing career today.

The Exeter City hitman was expected to make a poignant farewell at first club Bristol Rovers this afternoon after amassing 782 first-team appearances during his 20-year career.

Stewart had decided before Exeter’s win over Dagenham and Redbridge last weekend, that he would retire if the Grecians claimed victory and ended any relegation fears.

The 38-year-old will continue in his coaching role at St James’s Park, but didn’t want to stand in the path of those looking to make their mark at Exeter.

Stewart said: “There are six games to go and I’m not fighting for a playing contract next season so I’m better off giving someone else a chance whether that’s a young lad or someone whose contract is up.

“I thought it was a good thing to do at Rovers because I started off there and it gives someone else an opportunity for the final five games.

“I am proud of my career and I am going out not chasing another title or another goal.

“I’d like to say I’ve done most things and I’m content in my head with retiring now because of that reason, it’s a big factor.”

Stewart scored 31 goals in 102 appearances during his three years at Sunderland – helping the club to promotion before leaving Wearside on a free transfer in the summer of 2005.

He bows out of the game with 265 career goals, with his most prolific spells coming at Bristol Rovers, Huddersfield and Ipswich.