FORMER Hull and Swansea midfielder Sam Clucas has been released by Stoke.
The 32-year-old was at the top of his game in 2017 when he joined Swansea from Hull for £16.5million as the Welsh outfit splashed the cash following the sale of £45m man Gylfi Sigurdsson to Everton.
It came after he had already spent one season in the top flight with Hull – during which he registered three goals and one assist.
And his rise to the Premier League was the result of years of grafting – which included working in Debenhams and playing non-league football.
The turning point came when he was picked up by Glenn Hoddle's academy – which aims to get former Premier League and Football League Championship scholars back into professional football after being released by their various clubs.
And it worked as Clucas came through the leagues at Hereford, Mansfield and Chesterfield before signing for Hull.
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But things did not work out for him at Swansea as he managed just three goals in 36 games for the club.
And he was sold to Stoke for £6m the following summer.
Foot, ankle and back injuries have plagued Clucas in recent years as he has been left frustrated for much of his five seasons at Stoke.
But he has still managed to rack up 143 appearances for the Potters, netting 19 times.
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And now he has been released, more than a decade on from his time at Hoddle's academy.
Speaking to ESPN in 2017 about his rise from amateur player to Premier League football, he said: "I had worked at Debenhams and they were long days.
"I lost all my confidence in football and did a sports development course in the hope of becoming a PE teacher.
"But when you get picked up by someone of Glenn Hoddle's stature, from maybe a thousand players to go to his academy, it's a huge boost.
"Ever since then I've kicked on and gone up the levels.''
Clucas is one of eight players to have been released by Stoke following a difficult campaign which saw them finish 16th in the Championship.
Since relegation down to the second tier in 2018, they have failed to finish higher than 14th.
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