Elliott Ward has announced his retirement from playing football.
The 36-year-old enjoyed an impressive career as a defender, having played in every professional league in England.
Following early loan spells with Peterborough United and Bristol Rovers, the Harrow-born centre-back graduated from the youth system at West Ham United.
During the 2004/05 season, Wardy played in a run of games for the Hammers which culminated in the East London side gaining promotion to the Premier League via the play-offs.
The following campaign would see Elliott make a handful of appearances in the Premier League for West Ham and spend time on loan with Plymouth Argyle before he moved to Coventry City in the summer of 2006 for a sizeable fee.
Over the next three seasons, Wardy was a mainstay in the Sky Blues’ side as he made over 100 Championship appearances and bagged an impressive tally of 14 goals.
While playing for the Midlands club, Elliott crossed paths with Chelmsford City Manager Robbie Simpson, who played for Coventry between 2007 and 2009.
During the 2009/10 campaign, the defender saw his playing time reduced and loans to Doncaster Rovers and Preston North End followed at the tail-end of the season.
While with Donny, the now-36-year-old managed to find the back of the net with a spectacular overhead-kick goal in a 2-0 win against Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough.
After four years with the Sky Blues, Wardy moved to Norwich City during the summer of 2010 and spent the following three seasons at Carrow Road.
Over his first term with the Canaries, he featured for the majority of the Championship season as the Norfolk club sealed promotion to the Premier League.
Prior to the 2011/12 Premier League season, though, the defender picked up an injury and was kept out of action until January 2012.
In the October of the same year, Wardy left Carrow Road on loan to Nottingham Forest, before later returning to Norwich and departing on loan to the City Ground again.
Following back-to-back loans with Forest, the South Coast came calling as Elliott signed for Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth.
While with the Cherries, the 36-year-old enjoyed his third promotion to the Premier League as Howe’s side finished Championship champions during his second season at the club.
A year prior to sealing top-flight football, the defender was famously pitted against Cristiano Ronaldo, as Bournemouth hosted Real Madrid in a pre-season friendly at Dean Court.
As the 2015/16 season rolled around, Elliott was on the move again after a loan move to Huddersfield Town and found a permanent home in Lancashire after signing for Blackburn Rovers.
Two terms in the Championship and a season in League One would follow, during which Rovers finished runners-up in the third tier of English football under the guidance of Tony Mowbray.
During the same season which Blackburn sealed their return to the Championship, Wardy also spent time on loan with Milton Keynes Dons.
There were two more stops before the vastly experienced defender arrived at the EMG Inspire Stadium, with Elliott enjoying a season at Notts County and Cambridge United before moving to Essex.
Having joined the Clarets in February 2020, Wardy made his debut for the Club in a 3-1 victory against Tonbridge Angels.
Before the 2019/20 campaign was cut short, the central defender made five appearances for City.
Over the summer of 2020, Wardy agreed to another year with the Clarets and took the position of Academy Assistant Manager.
Under his and Mickey Spillane’s guidance, the Club’s youngsters enjoyed a solid season, reaching the second round of the FA Youth Cup.
As well as stepping into coaching, over the 2020/21 term, Elliott made 14 appearances for the Clarets, taking his total Chelmsford outings to 19.
Speaking on Wardy’s retirement, City Manager Robbie Simpson said: “Obviously, when I first went to Coventry, Wardy was a player there and I had the privilege of playing with him way back then, 2007 I think it was.
“I likened him to the Championship Rio Ferdinand because Rio was playing very well in the Premier League at the time, and I thought Wardy was a commanding and calm ball-playing centre half.
“At that time, he was one of the best centre backs in the Championship and he then proved that. He’d already played in the Premier League, but he went on to do it again, as well as play in the Championship, League One and League Two.
“His career speaks for itself, not only the way he made it in the game through his hard work and dedication but to stay in the game for as long as he did was exceptional and he’s a real role model to our lads in the Academy.
“Not only our lads in the Academy, but he’s also a real role model to our first-team players because of the career he’s had and the way he’s gone about his career.
“It doesn’t just happen, he hasn’t just stayed in the game because he’s a good footballer, he stayed in the game for as long as he did because he’s a dedicated professional on and off the pitch; he’s a good person and managers have trusted him.
“You can’t have a better role model than that for other players at our Football Club all throughout the age groups.
“It was a privilege to manage him as well, coming from where he’s come from to then play in the National League South, you’d probably think that he had the right to think that he was above the level but he didn’t.
“He really mucked in and he bought into what the Club was all about right from the very start; he quickly became a real favourite in the dressing room.
“We’re going to miss him, we’re really going to miss him and it’s going to be hard to fill the void that he’s going to leave and I’ve now got a task to try and fill that.
“I just can’t speak highly enough of him as a player but more importantly as a person and I’ve got no doubt that his coaching career is going to take off.
“Hopefully, we can be that platform for him to stay with us and help us grow, as well as him developing as a coach as well.
“I’m really looking forward to keeping Wardy around the place.
“What a fantastic career he’s had, though. He can look back on that career knowing that he gave everything towards it and that’s why he had the career he did, so I’m sure he can have no regrets.”
All at Chelmsford City would like to thank Elliott for his services, congratulate him for a fantastic career as a player and wish him well for the future.