STEED Malbranque’s solicitors have dismissed reports that the player has retired from football to look after a cancer-stricken son.
It was widely reported, originally in France, that the former Fulham, Spurs and Sunderland midfielder had torn up his new two-year contract at St Etienne in order to look after his four-year-old son, who had been diagnosed with the disease.
The story was taken to be true and many Premier League footballers including Joey Barton, Rio Ferdinand, Wayne Rooney and several of his former team-mates at Sunderland tweeted their sympathy and support to Malbranque (pictured, left).
Now it has emerged that the reports appear to have been a hoax – Malbranque does not have a four-year old son and has not told St Etienne of any plans to retire.
A statement from lawyers working on behalf of Malbranque’s agent Sebastien Boisseau, said: “Steed has read with concern the recent stories circulating about him and his family. He would like to reassure all of his friends in England and throughout world football that these stories are wholly without foundation.
“Steed does not have a son and his immediate family are in good health. Steed does not know the origin of these stories but would like to stress they are without merit.
“He trusts that they will now cease immediately.”
Malbranque is an intensely private person and several Sunderland players who tweeted their support to their ex-colleague have pointed out that none of them would know details of his personal life or how he is currently faring in France.
The 31-year-old has not made a good start at his new club. He has played only one game since joining two months ago, coming on as a substitute before being left out of the squad altogether for the following game against Sochaux, with the club citing personal reasons for him not being included in the squad.