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Northern Ireland talisman David Healy reflects on career as he announces retirement

David Healy celebrates with Keith Gillespie after scoring one of his three goals against Spain in September 2006

David Healy celebrates with Keith Gillespie after scoring one of his three goals against Spain in September 2006

  • by Gareth Fullerton
 

David Healy admits he will always cherish his time in the green jersey of Northern Ireland.

The 34-year-old striker has announced his retirement from football “with immediate effect”.

It sees the curtain fall on a glittering career spanning 18 years – one that has provided a treasure trove of stellar memories.

Healy – who scored 36 times in 95 appearances to become his country’s record goalscorer – will always be remembered for his exploits with Northern Ireland.

His winning strike against England at Windsor Park in 2005 has gone down in sporting folklore.

There was also his heroic hat-trick against mighty Spain in a 3-2 Euro qualifying victory in Belfast one year later.

The former Manchester United, Preston, Leeds United, Fulham, Sunderland and Rangers striker can also reflect on a proud club career.

Healy has been inactive since May after being released by Bury, prompting the predatory hitman to call time on his career.

In a statement released on Monday night, the affectionately known ‘King of Killyleagh’ said his memories with Northern Ireland will “always be closest to my heart”.

He added: “There have been some pretty tough days in the green shirt in recent years, but when we got it right and when I had the chance to play my part, those are the days that will stay with me forever.

“It has been an absolute honour to wear the Northern Ireland shirt and I hope to continue in whatever way I can, in my new career in coaching, to help Northern Ireland succeed.

“A huge thank-you to all my team mates, Michael O’Neill, all my past managers, staff, the IFA and most importantly the fans who sang my name win or lose, goals or no goals.”

Healy – whose last international appearance came in a 2-0 defeat to Israel in March – also praised the Green and White Army for their support over the years.

“To the Green and White Army, who have sang my name win or lose, goals or no goals, travelled to countries, some of which I don’t think either I or they could even spell, my heartfelt thanks and respect to you all. I will see you in the Kop End!” he said.

“It has been an absolute honour and privilege to wear the Northern Ireland shirt, to represent the people of our proud wee country and I hope to continue in whatever way I can, in my new career in coaching, to help Northern Ireland succeed.”

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill hailed Healy as an inspiration to future generations.

“David Healy has and will always be an iconic player in the eyes of all Northern Ireland fans,” O’Neill said.

“He is our most capped outfield player with 95 caps and his goalscoring record of 36 senior international goals, compares with the best strikers in International football.

“His commitment to playing for Northern Ireland is an example to all current and future international players.”

O’Neill added: “David has already performed a scouting role for the senior international team and assisted with the under 17 team as part of his development as a coach. I look forward to working with him in the future.”

Healy thanked everyone who helped him during his career, including his parents, wife Emma and children Taylor and Jude.

 

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