Steph Houghton announces her retirement

Manchester City's Steph Houghton with the WSL trophy in 2016

Manchester City’s Steph Houghton MBE has announced that she will retire from football at the end of the 2023-24 season.

The former England captain won the Barclays Women’s Super League title three times and picked up 121 caps for the Lionesses across 14 years, representing England at three World Cups in 2011, 2015 and 2019 and at the EURO Finals in 2013 and 2017.

Born in Durham, Houghton began her career with Sunderland and broke into the first team as a teenager when she was named as the FA Young Player of the Year in 2006 before moving on to Leeds Carnegie, who she helped to the Women’s FA Cup title in 2010.

A move to Arsenal followed later that year, where she picked up Women’s Super League titles in 2011 and 2012 as well as two more FA Cup medals in 2011 and 2013.

Steph won 121 caps for England

She returned north in 2014 when she signed for Manchester City and another WSL title followed in 2016 along with FA Cup success in 2017, 2019 and 2020.

Baroness Sue Campbell, the FA’s director of women’s football, said: “Steph has played a huge part in the growth of the women’s game and her impact transcends not just football but across sport. She has been the epitome of a role model.

“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. We’ve been lucky to have her in the women’s game and I wish her the very best in retirement.”

After featuring for England’s development teams at WU19, WU20, WU21 and WU23 level, she made her senior team debut in 2007 in a game with Russia at Milton Keynes.

Unfortunately, a broken leg meant she missed the 2007 World Cup before bad luck struck again two years later when a serious knee injury ruled her out of EURO 2009. But she was among the first 17 players to be given a central contract by the FA and she bounced back to become an integral part on the international scene under Hope Powell.

After starring for Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics, when she scored a famous winner against Brazil at Wembley,  she was appointed as captain in 2014 by incoming Lionesses manager Mark Sampson and never looked back from there.

A leader on the pitch, she helped the Lionesses to third place at the 2015 World Cup in Canada in what was another breakthrough moment for women’s football in England before consecutive semi- final appearances in 2017 and 2019 captured the nation’s imagination and catapulted the growth of the sport.

England's Ellen White and Steph Houghton celebrate World Cup bronze in 2015

Sarina Wiegman, England women’s head coach added: “Steph deserves all the praise she will rightly receive for her remarkable career. I know she has been inspiring so many young girls to follow in her footsteps. I wish her the very best with whatever comes next and look forward to being able to celebrate her achievements at one of our games later this year.”

Kay Cossington, the FA’s women’s technical director, said: “With 121 England caps and remarkable leadership as captain, Steph is an icon of the women’s game and will be remembered as one of our all-time greats.

“She is recognised across the world of women’s football and her impact is far greater than her historic achievements on the pitch, the exemplary standards she set with England and within her club environments have been a source of huge inspiration for so many seeking to progress.

“Steph will always be welcome at St. George’s Park and Wembley Stadium and we look forward to paying tribute to her at a home fixture and giving her the recognition she deserves.”

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