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Man City defender and ex-England captain Steph Houghton to retire

Manchester City defender and former England captain Steph Houghton has announced that she will be hanging up her boots at the end of the current Women’s Super League season.

This decision marks the conclusion of an illustrious career spanning over two decades, during which Houghton has left an indelible mark on the world of women’s football.

At 35 years old, Houghton stands as City’s record appearance holder, embodying dedication and excellence throughout her tenure with the club.

As part of the squad vying for the WSL title this season, her leadership and skill have been instrumental in shaping the team’s success on the pitch.

Houghton’s journey in football began in 2002 at Sunderland, where she laid the foundation for a remarkable career.

She subsequently graced the rosters of Leeds, Arsenal, and finally Manchester City in 2014, where she has enjoyed tremendous success, becoming the club’s most decorated player with an impressive tally of eight major trophies.

With 121 caps for England, Houghton’s international career is equally noteworthy. Debuting in 2007, she represented her country at two World Cups, two European Championships, and the Olympics, leaving an enduring legacy on the global stage.

Despite facing setbacks such as injuries and squad exclusions, Houghton’s resilience and unwavering commitment to the sport have been unwavering.

Her dedication to the game is exemplified by her words: “Football has been my life; my passion, and I have loved the career I have had.”

Throughout her tenure, Houghton has not only excelled as a player but also served as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring athletes.

Her impact transcends the field, as she has tirelessly worked to pave the way for future generations of female footballers.

Her contributions have been recognised with honours such as an MBE in 2016, a testament to her significant achievements in women’s football.

As Houghton bids farewell to professional football, tributes pour in from teammates, coaches, and fans alike.

City head coach Gareth Taylor hails her as an “icon of the game,” acknowledging her unparalleled influence on and off the pitch.

Despite her impending retirement, Houghton’s legacy is assured, with her name etched into the annals of football history as a true sporting great.

Looking ahead, Houghton remains optimistic about the future, expressing excitement for the next chapter of her journey.

Yet, in the interim, her focus remains steadfast on delivering her best for Manchester City as they strive for success in the remaining matches of the season.

Beyond her exploits on the pitch, Houghton’s impact transcends football. Her commitment to charitable endeavors, such as supporting her husband, former Liverpool defender Stephen Darby, in raising awareness for motor neurone disease, underscores her compassion and generosity.