Steph Houghton announces retirement

Steph Houghton of England celebrates
Steph Houghton of England celebrates following her sides victory in the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup Quarter Final match between Norway and England at Stade Oceane on June 27, 2019 (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Manchester City captain Steph Houghton has announced her retirement from professional football at the age of 35. The defender released an emotional post on social media to confirm she will hang up her boots at the end of the season.

When Houghton first pulled on the captain’s armband for Manchester City, she could never have anticipated the journey she would go on over the next 10 years with the club. Being named skipper ahead of the team’s relaunch and professionalisation, Houghton would lead her side to eight major trophies throughout her decade in Manchester. 

The end of an era

While Man City may have been where the 35-year-old made her name, Houghton certainly didn’t begin her career in Sky Blue. Making her senior debut for Leeds in 2007,  her first taste of professional football was a far cry from what the sport would evolve into throughout her career.  

Joining Arsenal in 2010, Houghton made 76 appearances for the Gunners throughout her three years in London.  Her move to Manchester City however, was undoubtedly the turning point in the centre-back’s journey.

Steph Houghton of Manchester City during announcing her retirement at the end of the season at Manchester City Football Academy on March 25, 2024 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Tom Flathers/Manchester City FC)

Captaining her side for more than ten years, Houghton has sealed her name into the record books.  With 241 appearances, the defender is the City’s all-time leading women’s appearance maker. 

Houghton has also enjoyed an outstanding international career.  Captaining England for eight years, the defender was a mainstay of the Lionesses. However, a prolonged period of injury put an end to her international career ahead of Euro 2022. She agonisingly missed out on the title-winning campaign on home soil.

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As one of the most recognisable figures in women’s football, the former Lionesses captain has been instrumental in the growth of the game. Houghton posted in her retirement announcement: “I hope that I leave the game in a better place than when I started and that I have contributed to giving the girls of tomorrow a better future in football.”

And that, she has. Captain. Leader. Legend. Thank you for everything, Steph. 

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