Former Sunderland captain Dean Whitehead has today hung up his boots at the age of 36.
The midfielder - who also turned out at right back and right midfield during his five-year stay on Wearside - has barely featured this season during Huddersfield Town’s successful stay in the Premier League, and now moves into a coaching role with the Yorkshire club as part of David Wagner’s backroom staff.
Whitehead arrived at Sunderland from Oxford United on a free transfer (though eventually had to pay £150,000 at a tribunal) in the summer of 2004 under the management of Mick McCarthy and quickly became an important part of the side which led the charge towards the Championship title at the end of the 04/05 season.
The Abingdon-born utility man won the Player’s Player of the Year Award at the end of the campaign and kicked on again from there, despite the club’s disheartening relegation from the top flight with a record low points total in the following season.
When Roy Keane arrived in the summer of 2006, Whitehead solidified his place in the side under the stewardship of the former Manchester United captain as the club returned once again back to the top flight as Champions.
He remained on Wearside right up until the summer of 2009, but was sold to Stoke City for £5m by incoming manager Steve Bruce, who instead opted to replace Whitehead with his captain at Wigan Athletic, Lee Cattermole.
He spent four years with Stoke before moving back to the North East to join Middlesbrough, and after a two-year spell on Teesside he joined up with Huddersfield and played another important role in a promotion from the Championship, this time as winners of a penalty shoot-out in the Play-Off Final against Jaap Staam’s Reading.
He scored some memorable goals, including strikes against Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Reading, as was as honest a pro as they come, always grafting and giving it his all for the team.
Good luck for the future, Deano!