May 21, 2024

Former England captain Steve Houghton will retire at the end of the season

Former England captain Steph Houghton has announced her intention to retire at the end of the current season.

The 35-year-old defender, who has won 121 caps for the Lions, is hoping to continue her career by winning the 2023/24 Women's Super League title with… Manchester city.

Houghton started playing for Sunderland in 2002 and also represented Leeds United arsenal Before moving to the city 10 years ago.

She made her debut for England in 2007 and last appeared in 2021, missing the title-winning Euro 2022 squad after undergoing surgery on her Achilles tendon.

She said on her official website: “There is no easy way to say this, but I will retire from football at the end of the current Premier League season.

“Making the decision to retire is very difficult. Although age comes for every player, it is not easy to say the words out loud. Football has been my life, my passion and I loved the profession I was doing.

“I would like to thank all the teammates I have ever played with, I have continued to learn every day and I appreciate the support each of them has given me and the friendships I have made along the way.

“To my manager, coach and all the staff I have worked with and under, I appreciate the time, effort and work you have put into improving my playing style and the standards of women’s football.

“It has been an honor and privilege to represent Sunderland, Leeds United and Arsenal and to be on the incredible journey I have had with Manchester City over the past 10 years.

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“I will always be humbled to have played in many domestic matches, captained my country, and represented England and Team GB in many international tournaments. I will always be very proud of everything I have achieved in the game.

He added: “I'm excited about what comes next, but in the meantime, I will remain focused on giving everything I have left to Manchester City, over the next two months.”

Houghton is seeking a second Champions League title with City, having won the league twice with Arsenal.

City manager Gareth Taylor said: “Steph is – without a doubt – an icon of the game. Although her professional career on the pitch is now coming to an end, her legacy will be felt for many years to come. She paved the way for many to flourish in the future.

Houghton is seeking a second WSL title with City this season

Houghton is bidding for a second WSL title with City this season (Tim Goode/PA)

“Steph has lived and breathed football for so long, and leaves it in the strongest place ever – a true testament to her leadership, hard work, talent and dedication.

“I feel very proud to have been able to work with her since 2020 and I know that her name will go down in the history books as a true great footballer.

“Steph will excel at everything she sets her mind to, and on behalf of everyone here at Manchester City, I would like to express our immense gratitude and wish Steph all the best for the future.”

“We wish you all the best in your retirement, @stephhoughton2. From leading the #Lionesses to growing women's football – your impact will never be forgotten. A true icon,” the Lionesses said on

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England coach Sarina Wegman said on the FA website: “Steph truly deserves all the praise she will receive for her amazing career. I know she has inspired so many young girls to follow in her footsteps.

“I wish her the best in everything that comes next, and I look forward to being able to celebrate her accomplishments at one of our games later this year.”

Baroness Sue Campbell, Director of Women's Football at the FA, said: “Steph has played a huge role in the growth of women's football and her impact extends beyond just football, but beyond the sport. She has been a role model.”

“There will be girls who saw Steve play with talent, determination and integrity and went home and said, ‘I want to be Steve Houghton.'”