Birmingham City have confirmed in an official statement on their club website that midfielder Craig Gardner will retire at the end of his playing contract and take up a full-time coaching role with the club.

Experienced midfielder Craig Gardner, 33, will be calling it a day on his playing career once his contract with Birmingham City expires this summer. Gardner has enjoyed a successful career, playing for Aston Villa, Sunderland and West Brom as well as the Blues.

However, Gardner will not be leaving St Andrew’s at the end of his deal. Gardner will be taking up a role as first-team coach with Birmingham City to take his first steps into a career after football.

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The club went said in a statement that upon his permanent return to the club in 2017 that Gardner became an “influential” figure both on and off the pitch. The Blues went on to thank him for his efforts as a player, saying:

The club would like to thank Craig for everything he did as a player and we look forward to the new chapter with us as first-team coach”.

Gardner started his career with Aston Villa, playing 79 times for the club’s senior side before leaving for Birmingham City in 2010. His first stint with the club lasted only a year and a half before he was sold upon relegation, joining Sunderland.

With Sunderland, Gardner played in 100 matches for the club, scoring 14 goals and laying on four assists in three years. At the end of his deal with Sunderland, Gardner joined West Brom, who he featured for 85 times (six goals and nine assists).

Gardner returned to Birmingham City on loan in 2017 and the deal was made permanent later that year. In total he made 125 appearances for the Blues, scoring 16 goals and laying on five assists.

Birmingham City fans, are you looking forward to seeing Gardner in a coaching role?