Steph Houghton to retire at end of season

March 28 – Manchester City legend and former England captain Steph Houghton has announced her retirement at the end of the current season.

Houghton had a transformative role in women’s football, which has increased in popularity tenfold since her debut for Sunderland in 2002.

“I hope I leave the game in a better place than when I started,” Houghton said. “And [I hope] I have contributed in some small way to giving the girls of tomorrow a better future in football.”

“Taking the decision to retire, is such a difficult thing to do,” continued Houghton, who was awarded an MBE in 2016 for her achievements in women’s football.

“Whilst age comes to every player, it makes it no easier having to say the words out loud. Football has been my life; my passion and I have loved the career I have had.”

Houghton is the last remaining member from City’s inaugural professional team a decade ago, a defender with 121 caps for England between 2007 and 2021 and a key player in four major tournaments aims to conclude her career by aiding Gareth Taylor’s team in securing this season’s Women’s Super League title.

Taylor fittingly offered praise to this player, whose personal life revolves around caring for her husband, Stephen Darby. The former Liverpool, Bradford, and Bolton defender was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in 2018, merely three months after their marriage.

“Steph is – without question – an icon of the game. Her legacy will be felt for so many years to come,” Taylor said. “She’s paved the way for so many to thrive in the future.”

“She has been the epitome of a role model,” said Baroness Sue Campbell, the FA’s director of women’s football.

“There will be girls who have seen Steph play with talent, determination and integrity and gone home and said ‘I want to be Steph Houghton’. I’d like to personally say ‘thank you Steph’ and also thank her on behalf of the FA for everything she’s done on and off the pitch.

Houghton’s Manchester City are level with leaders Chelsea with five matches left in their WSL season, which is set to conclude on May 18 against Aston Villa.

“I am excited for whatever comes next,” said Houghton, who helped husband Stephen Darby complete a 178-mile march for ex-players with motor neurone disease this week.

“In the meantime, I remain focused on giving everything I have left for Manchester City, over the next two months.”

Contact the writer of this story, Harry Ewing, at moc.l1721500469labto1721500469ofdlr1721500469owedi1721500469sni@g1721500469niwe.1721500469yrrah1721500469