Former Sunderland striker Michael Bridges retires to the Jet-set

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MICHAEL Bridges announced his retirement from football last week at the age of 32.

The former Sunderland idol, now with Australia’s Newcastle Jets, talked to GRAEME ANDERSON.

MICHAEL Bridges is on a golf course some 100 miles north of Sydney when the Echo catches up with him.

Well, he would be, wouldn’t he?

It’s the archetypal image of the professional footballer’s retirement – sun, sand (be it beach or bunker) and so few responsibilities for the remainder of their lives.

Except Bridges has no intention of cultivating a life of leisure now that he’s hung up his boots.

And the clincher in his decision to retire was the offer of a role in his Australian club that he could genuinely excited about – the chance to turn the Jets into a major footballing force.

“It was a difficult decision to make – the decision to retire,” he reflected. “Football has been my life for so long, that it was weird imagining life without it.

“But it has been harder and harder for me to be fit to play.

“I’ve had a couple of niggling injuries in the last couple of seasons, one in particular with my knee and knew I wasn’t getting any younger, so I wasn’t sure what I was going to do.

“But when the offer came in from the club to retire and become the Jets’ international football and business manager, it was too good an opportunity to turn down.”

Read full story in today’s Echo.