Former Norwich City defender forced to retire on health grounds

Former Norwich City defender Leon Barnett has retired. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Former Norwich City defender Leon Barnett has retired. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Former Norwich City defender Leon Barnett has retired from football due to a heart condition.

The 32-year-old, now with Northampton Town, has been diagnosed with a condition that, according to professional medical opinion, would make it unsafe for him to continue to either train or play.

'We are all devastated for Leon,' said Cobblers boss Keith Curle.

'Leon had been having some issues but after a reaction in the Bury game we knew something wasn't right, so we sent him for further testing. The medical team made the correct decision to stop all activity, and after testing and second and third opinions, for his own health and safety, Leon has been advised to retire.

'It is very sad news. Leon is not just a good player, but an important figure off the pitch too.

'However, far more importantly for Leon and his family, is that this has been diagnosed now and he is fit and well.

'He has enjoyed a fantastic career as a player, playing at all levels of the game to play over 350 senior games across the four divisions.

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'As a club, we offer our full support to Leon and his family, we will honour his contract and we will help them however we possibly can. We know Leon is looking to gain coaching experience, and we have offered him the opportunity to undertake some coaching duties across all levels of the club, at both first team and academy level, over the rest of the season.'

Chairman Kelvin Thomas added: 'This is clearly a difficult time for Leon and his family and they are our priority here.

'I am sure all supporters will join us in wishing Leon well and while we will no longer benefit from Leon's playing talents, we are pleased that he will remain on board with us for the rest of the season, doing some work at first team level as well as coaching with the academy.

'He has a lot of experience that we can tap into, and at the same time Leon can gain coaching experience to help with the next stage of his career.

'Sometimes there are more important things than football and as a club we will do what we can to support Leon and his family.'

Barnett, who started his career at Luton Town, made 50 appearances for the Canaries after initially arriving on loan from West Brom in September 2010.

He went on to complete a permanent move to Carrow Road and was part of the Paul Lambert side that gained promotion to the Premier League. He made 25 appearances in the top flight over two seasons before he was loaned out to Cardiff in the Championship.

He left Carrow Road to join Wigan in the summer of 2013 on a free transfer before going on to play for Bury and Northampton.