FORMER Sunderland star Marcus Stewart has been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.
The ex-striker, 49, has undergone medical tests for 12 months before being diagnosed.
A statement released by PFA on behalf of Stewart reads: "Following 12 months of testing, former Bristol Rovers forward Marcus Stewart has been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease.
"Marcus and his wife Louise have set up a JustGiving page with all proceeds going to the Darby Rimmer MND Foundation."
Stewart became a coach after retiring and is currently Head of Player Development and National League Yeovil Town.
Before that Stewart had coaching spells at Exeter Walsall and Bristol Rovers, where he scored 57 goals in 171 games at the very start of his playing career.
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His performances for the Gas earned him a £1.2million move to Huddersfield and Stewart continued his goalscoring form in West Yorkshire with 58 goals in 133 games.
Stewart became a fan favourite for the Terriers until he signed for Ipswich, becoming their most expensive ever signing at the time after completing a £2.5m deal.
The Tractor Boys were promoted to the Premier League in Stewart's first season and finished his debut season in the top flight as the divison's second-highest scorer with 19 goals.
A move to Sunderland followed after Ipswich's relegation before a move back to his hometown Bristol, where he made 27 appearances in two years at Bristol City.
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Next for Stewart came short spells at Preston on loan and Yeovil before finishing his playing career with three years at Exeter.
Football fans from the clubs Stewart represented have wished him well upon hearing the news.
A Huddersfield fan wrote: "Devastating. My absolute childhood hero, and favourite player to ever wear the blue and white stripes. Thoughts are with you and your family Marcus."
An Ipswich fan added: "This is extremely awful news! MND is a horrible! As all Town fans know, Marcus was a brilliant players for
Ipswich Town and was part of the hugely successful promotional team of 1999-2000.
"We are thinking of Marcus and his family at this difficult time 💙💙."
A Sunderland fan paid tribute saying: "I remember Marcus playing for my club Sunderland. What a class striker. Hope he’s as comfortable as he can be and wish him every success in his treatment."
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