'Iconic' Healy retires from football

Published Tuesday, 03 December 2013
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Northern Ireland footballer David Healy has announced he is retiring from football to embark on a coaching career, at the age of 34.

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On Tuesday, Healy, who was without a club after a spell last season with Bury, said the point had now come for him "to move on to a new challenge".

"I am today announcing my immediate retirement as a player from professional football," he said in a statement.

At the start of his professional career, which spanned 18 years, Healy was spotted by Sir Alex Ferguson who brought him to Manchester United.

He later became a Premier League mainstay with Fulham and Sunderland and also played for the SPL when he joined Rangers in 2010.

"Over half my life has been dedicated to the game that I love and although you have to get on by your own efforts and making the best of your own abilities, my career would not have been anything like it has, without the help and support of so many people," Healy added.

At international level, Healy, who scored 36 goals in 95 games, remains Northern Ireland's all-time leading goalscorer.

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!

David Healy

In 2005, he secured a famous victory against England when he scored the only goal of the World Cup qualifier at Windsor Park.

Healy also netted a memorable hat-trick during Northern Ireland's 3-2 win over Spain in 2008.

He scored his last international goal over a year ago when he returned to international duty against Azerbaijan in November 2012. It was his first goal for the side in four years.

"It's as a Northern Ireland player the memories will always be closest to my heart," the Killyleagh born striker admitted.

"There have been some pretty tough days in the Green shirt, let's be honest, but when we got it right and when I had the chance to play my part, those are the days that will stay in my memory forever."

Healy last made an international appearance in March this year when he joined the action as a substitute against Israel at Windsor Park for a World Cup qualifying tie, replacing Martin Paterson after 83 minutes. He had a shot saved in stoppage time, in what was his last chance for NI.

"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", Healy said.

The Irish Football Association has confirmed it will honour David Healy during the next UEFA Euro 2016 competitive home match at Windsor Park.

It was during the UEFA Euro 2008 qualifying campaign that David scored 13 goals, becoming the top goal scorer in the history of the qualifying tournament. It is therefore poignant that we will mark David’s Northern Ireland career at a UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying match in Belfast.

IFA

Meanwhile current Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill paid tribute to the retiring striker whom he described as an "iconic player in the eyes of all Northern Ireland fans".

"He is our most capped outfield player with 95 caps and his goal scoring record of 36 senior international goals compares with the best strikers in International football," O'Neill said.

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

"I would like to thank David for his contribution to football in Northern Ireland and I look forward to working with him in the future."

In his statement, Healy thanked his family, particularly his mother, father, wife and children, along with his early coaches and past managers for their support and advice throughout his career.

"A special mention for the late Eddie Coulter and Bob Nesbit of Manchester United, who gave me so much advice and help in my teenage years," the father-of-two said.

Sports Minister Caral Ni Chuilin has also paid tribute to Healy.

In a statement she said: "David Healy is an inspirational figure, his exploits on the field will be remembered by fans both locally and across the globe. His wonder strike to beat England at Windsor Park and his hat-trick against Spain live long in the memory.

"Having played at all levels of the game, he built a career which took him to the pinnacle of his sport. He was able to compete with, and often beat, the best footballers in the world."

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Comments Comments
50 Comments
Iain in Belfast wrote (134 days ago):
Michael, kinda funny that any single person can trot out what you just said. Care to give details about the incident or did you just make it up? Surely if it was that bad (the most sectarian frightening experience of his life) it would have been news-worthy. I'm sure just about every single fan took part in this particular incident too?
me in larne wrote (135 days ago):
michael monghan I can safely say either u are a liar or ur mate wasnt there ! I go to all the northern ireland games and there was no sectarian chants whatsoever . the things u have to do or say nowadays just to get attention
Michael Monaghan in Belfast wrote (138 days ago):
A Catholic Irish friend went to a 'n.ireland international match at Windsor park for the first time and told me it was the most sectarian frightening experience of his life .. Can see why lol there the only so called nation in the world where either half the population hasn't or wouldn't set foot in there national stadium or would support them ?? Ring a bell ?
Michael Monaghan in Belfast wrote (138 days ago):
Shame half the people of the north of ireland dont support 'n.ireland' team - but still we are stuck with names like 'George Best' City airport .. Great icon he was.. Not !!
David in Belfast wrote (138 days ago):
Well Sean in the 1920's the FIA split from the IFA if they ask nicely we might let them back. NI didnt split up the national team the new ROI did. You will notice the IRFU didn't they actually built Ravenhill instead to maintain the link. Look to your own country before you criticize mine.
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