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  • To all you doubters, kindly do NOT question my sources again. Bringing you the latest and the most accurate football forecasts from the house of Ceresa.

    On a more serious note though, my sympathies with the lad. He was definitely one that had actually bridged the gap between potential and performance. A rare gem indeed among the many English youngsters lately that can never seem to bridge the gap between promise and performance a la Pennant, Parker, Bentley, etc.

    The original Yahoo! Sports news story follows below:

    West Ham and England striker Dean Ashton has announced his retirement from professional football.

    Ashton has succumbed to a long-term ankle problem which he initially sustained when training with England in August 2006.

    The 26-year-old underwent several operations in a bid to overcome the problem but concerns for his mobility later in life prompted Friday's decision.

    West Ham chief executive Scott Duxbury told the club's official website: "This is a sad day and our thoughts are with Dean. I would like to place on record our thanks to him for all his efforts and wish him the very best. I would also like to thank the fans for their patience and understanding during what has been a difficult time."

    Ashton made his name at Crewe before joining Norwich in January 2005.

    He netted 18 goals in 46 appearances for the Canaries, earning him a then club-record £7.25million move to West Ham.

    Ashton made a good first impression, scoring the goals which took the Hammers to the FA Cup final, although he failed to land a place in Sven-Goran Eriksson's 2006 World Cup squad.

    He was named in Steve McClaren's first squad, for the game against Greece at Old Trafford, but was injured in a training ground clash with then Chelsea winger Shaun Wright-Phillips.

    The striker missed the whole 2006/07 season but returned to make 35 appearances in 2007/08.

    He started the 2008/09 season in goalscoring form but broke down again after just four games because of the ankle injury.