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FORMER Aberystwyth Town and Bala Town midfielder Sean Thornton has announced his retirement from professional football with immediate effect.

Capped 12 times by the Republic of Ireland at Under-21 level, the 34-year-old has spent the past two seasons with his hometown club Drogheda United, who earned promotion to the top flight of Irish football with a 3-2 aggregate play-off victory over Wexford Youths with Thornton scoring the penalty that won the tie for Drogheda. He re-signed this season and went on to score one goal in 17 appearances in all competitions.

Thornton's career in the UK began at Tranmere Rovers in 2001 before he moved to Sunderland, where he scored nine goals in 49 games, making 11 appearances in the Premier League in the 2002/03 season. He then moved to Doncaster Rovers in 2005, where he would stay for two years before joining Leyton Orient, where he made just short of 100 appearances, bringing his number of Football League appearances to over 200.

Thornton left Orient in 2010 and, after a year out of the game, signed for Aberystwyth Town in a move that was described by the club as 'arguably the biggest signing in Welsh Premier League history'. After scoring eight goals from 24 appearances he joined Conwy Borough in the summer of 2013 on a pay as you play deal while he proved his fitness after recovering from a ruptured Achilles' tendon.

But, after six games Thornton was released from Y Morfa for breaching club rules and signed for Bala Town in January 2014 where he scored once from eight (+3) WPL appearances.