Defender sends farewell message as he ends 17-year stay at Stoke City

Tom Edwards is leaving Stoke City.
-Credit: (Image: Steve Bould)

Tom Edwards has said his goodbyes at Stoke City after coming all the way through the ranks to play in the Premier League.

Edwards, from Stafford, was eight when he joined Stoke's academy and gradually found his role at right-back, being singled out as one to watch. He was part of the under-18s side alongside Tyrese Campbell and Harry Souttar that reached the FA Youth Cup semi-final - keeping Jadon Sancho quiet in a difficult tie against star-studded Manchester City.

It was against Manchester City that he made his senior breakthrough in the top flight too, in October 2017. It was a match when Kevin de Bruyne inspired an emphatic 7-2 home win - although it was 2-2 when Edwards went off injured eight minutes into the second half. He was thrown into the deep end again by Mark Hughes away at Tottenham and Chelsea before the January signing of Moritz Bauer left him back on the sidelines.

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Edwards was still tagged as a good shout to fill the right-back slot for the next decade as Stoke were relegated but new boss Gary Rowett added Cuco Martina to the competition and it took the arrival of Nathan Jones for the youngster to really come to the fore. He found his best form next to Ryan Shawcross in the spring of 2019 and would end that season crowned as Stanley Matthews Footballer of the Year.

Jones, however, brought in Tommy Smith from Huddersfield Town that summer and Edwards struggled to keep hold of the shirt, particularly as the team's form nosedived too. He was trusted with a long-term contract in October 2017 but Jones left and he only featured fleetingly over the next couple of months under Michael O'Neill - and then didn't make another league appearance after December 2019.

He went out on loan to Fleetwood Town and New York Red Bulls, twice, before returning to England for spells with Barnsley and Huddersfield Town, always briefly returning to train at Clayton Wood - but not getting another chance. His exit has now been confirmed as Stoke submit a full retained list and he will have to find a new home to play regularly.

"From the age of 8 to 25. I appreciate the past 17 years at Stoke City," he wrote on social media with a selection of photos from his time at the club. "Thank you for the memories."

Ben Wilmot, Sol Sidibe and Frank Fielding were among the clubmates to wish him well for the future.

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