The Football League Paper - - WOMEN'S FOOTBALL WEEKLY - By Josh Peck

ASH­LEIGH MILLS has been forced to hang up her boots at just 20 years of age af­ter be­ing di­ag­nosed with mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis.

The Don­caster Rovers Belles mid­fielder, a for­mer Eng­land U19 in­ter­na­tional, made four ap­pear­ances for the side last sea­son as they gained pro­mo­tion from WSL2.

De­spite fin­ish­ing her play­ing ca­reer, it’s not the end for Mills, who wants to carry on sup­port­ing the Belles from the stands when their sea­son starts against Chelsea on March 24.

Mills said: “I have tried so hard to get back, but my legs just won’t go. Un­for­tu­nately, this dis­ease can­not be beaten and has taken my dream.

“My three years with the club have been ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic. I have en­joyed ev­ery minute of my time here. I feel very hon­oured to have rep­re­sented this great his­toric and suc­cess­ful club.”

Mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis af­fects around 100,000 peo­ple in the UK, with symp­toms of­ten in­clud­ing fa­tigue, vi­sion prob­lems and dif­fi­culy with walk­ing.

Af­ter Mills’ di­ag­no­sis, Belles man­ager Glen Har­ris paid his tributes to the mid­fielder.

He said: “It is sad that a young player with the tal­ent of Ash has had to stop play­ing at the top level.

“She has been a plea­sure to work with, al­ways turn­ing up and train­ing with a smile on her face... even if it’s not al­ways in the right kit!”

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