Former Wolves winger Michael Kightly has announced his retirement at the age of 33.
Kightly made 425 career appearances, including 127 in gold and black, and played in the Premier League for Wolves, Stoke and Burnley. But he has decided to call it a day because he no longer feels he can do what he used to do.
Basildon-born Kightly had a year left on his contract with Southend, where he started and finished his career, but felt it was the right decision to quit now. “It’s frustrating when your legs can’t do what they used to do,” said Kightly. “I probably could play on for another year, or a couple of years, but I don’t see the point to be honest.
“It’s been a great career but one that has been tough physically, and it’s been tough mentally as well, more so in the last couple of years. It wasn’t that difficult a decision to make. I thought about it in the summer and then I came back to pre-season and thought the time was right for me. I was lucky enough to fulfil my dream of playing in the Premier League so I’m really proud at all that I achieved.”
Kightly will go down as one of Wolves’ biggest bargains of modern times, having signed from non-league Grays for just £25,000 following a short loan spell. A bustling, crowd-pleasing winger, who always looked to drive at opponents, create and score goals and leave fans on the edge of their seats, he played a key role as Wolves won the Championship title in 2008-09. He was one of three players in Mick McCarthy’s side who earned England Under-21 honours with Richard Stearman and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, but serious knee injuries blighted his final three seasons at Molineux. Following relegation in 2012, he was one of several players to leave, including Matt Jarvis and Steven Fletcher, joining Stoke City for £3m.
Kightly, who also scored 24 goals for Wolves, also went up from the second tier twice with Burnley in 2014 and 2016, and made 39 appearances in his final season at League One Southend.
The winger becomes the second ex-Wolves player from that period to announce his retirement recently after Karl Henry also said he has hung up his boots.