FORMER Swindon Town goalscoring hero Simon Cox has announced his retirement from football.

The 34-year-old Republic of Ireland international ended his career having played 544 times and scoring 140 goals for the likes of West Bromwich Albion, Nottingham Forest, and Southend United.

Cox, born in Tilehurst near Reading, began his career at the Royals before making the permanent switch to the County Ground on deadline day in August 2007.

After announcing he was “the best player in the world” in his first Town interview, Cox went on to score three hat-tricks in one season while netting two outrageous goals – one against Fenerbahçe in pre-season, and another against Walsall at the County Ground under the lights.

Cox’s short but sweet stint at Swindon ended in 2009 when he was sold to West Brom for almost £2million.

Going on to play for Forest, Southend, and finally Western Sydney Wanders, Cox called time on his career at the age of 34 as he turns his attention to a career in coaching.

In a lengthy multi-section statement on his Twitter account, Cox briefly recapped his proudest achievements before going on to give thanks to everyone that helped him enjoy his successful career.

He said: “Today is the day that every footballer knows will come but never looks forward to. After speaking with my family, I announce my retirement from playing the sport I love.

“I’ve been fortunate to have lived through a dream, and one which I’ve been able to share with the people closest to me.

“I was a young boy from Reading who grew up watching his boyhood club, to playing and scoring for them and being a part of the historic 106 club gaining promotion to the promised land.

“A young lad who dreamt of playing and scoring in the Premier League, to someone who represented the Republic of Ireland 30 times and was part of the squad that went to the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine in 2012 for the first time in nearly 30 years.

“I’d like to say thank you to all the managers who gave me a chance, and to all the players and staff that I’ve had the pleasure to meet and play with in my career - you’ve all been amazing.

“To the supporters who I’ve played for I hope I did you proud. It wasn’t always good times, but I can always say I tried my best so thank you for your support.”

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Cox – who possesses the highest number of goals in a single season for Town since the Second World War – is now looking to break into coaching, something which has turned out to be far more difficult than he had hoped.

On Twitter, Cox continued. He said: “As much as I’m calling time on a playing career, this is not the end in football for me.

“Since returning from Australia earlier this year I’ve been quietly going about seeking coaching/management roles, but I never envisioned it being as challenging as it has been so far.

“I know that whoever gives me the opportunity to prove myself will see that I’m ready and raring to go with a career’s worth of experience and knowledge to pass on to the next generation of players.

“Whilst I’m closing the door and looking back fondly on a career I’ve been lucky to have had, I’m genuinely excited and looking for to the next chapter in football.

“Having now completed my UEFA A Licence and a Masters in Football Business & Management, the future is really something I’m looking forward to as a coach or as part of the back room management staff. Thank you, Coxy.”