BILLY Kee has announced he has retired from football due to personal reasons.

The Accrington Stanley striker, who has had a long battle with mental health issues, was yet to pull on the red shirt this season after not returning for pre-season.

Kee and the club came to an agreement to terminate his contract by mutual consent on January 13 and he his hoping to say his goodbyes to the Stanley faithful at the home game against AFC Wimbledon this Saturday.

The 29-year-old will go down as a legend at the club after scoring 76 goals in 179 league appearances, including finishing as the League Two top scorer with 26 when Stanley historically won the league in 2018.

"Everyone knows my ongoing issues with depression and anxiety and in the summer I made it known about my bulimia which has affected me since I was at Leicester," said Kee when talking about his retirement and leaving the Reds.

"The most important thing is my health and my family, my wife Leigh and two sons and, now I have made the decision, I feel in a better place.

"Accrington will always have a place in my heart and I can never thank owner Andy Holt, manager John Coleman and assistant manager Jimmy Bell enough for everything they have done for me.

"The best moment of my football career was scoring the winner at Luton in the League Two championship season and winning the league. That was so special, to celebrate with the owner, the management, my team mates and the fans."

Stanley boss John Coleman is very close to Kee and classes him almost as family.

"We want to thank Billy for everything he has done, his health is paramount and we want him to get well," added Coleman.

"I class Billy as a good friend and he is the closest person to family as a player. I am glad he will get his chance to say his farewell for all the efforts he has put in and all the special moments he has given the fans."

Accrington's owner Andy Holt believes Kee's goals were the main reason Stanley created history by winning in League Two and playing the third tier of English football for the first time.

"In my time here Billy has been one, if not the, best player. His golden goals got us over the line in the League Two championship winning season and I was on the phone to him every day during that time," said Holt.

"We were aware of the problems Billy had from the end of last season and the last six-eight months we have been trying to find a solution, we knew Billy's heart was not in it at this level and he needs to find time and space and a new future for him.

"We are good mates and I am looking forward to having a pint with him on Saturday and wishing him all the best in the future. He is welcome here anytime."