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Northern Ireland defender McAuley retires from football aged 39

‘I enjoyed every second I wore the Northern Ireland shirt ,’ writes the former Rangers man.

Gareth McAuley celebrates scoring against Ukraine at Euro 2016.
Gareth McAuley celebrates scoring against Ukraine at Euro 2016.

NORTHERN IRELAND DEFENDER Gareth McAuley has called time on his career after 23 years.

The 39-year-old announced his retirement through a lengthy statement on Twitter this morning, adding that “after 23 years playing football it’s time for new challenges.”

McAuley scored nine times in 80 appearances for Northern Ireland and lined out at Euro 2016. The former West Brom and Leicester centre-half began his career at Irish League side Crusaders and finished up at his boyhood club Rangers in 2018/19.

The Larne native also had stints at Lincoln and Ipswich across the water, and at Linfield and Coleraine on home soil.

“I knew last season was going to be my 23rd and final year as a player and I know I’m hanging up my boots for the final time at the right time,” McAuley wrote.

“I pride myself on getting everything possible out of my career and I’m proud to have played with — and against — some of the best players in Northern Ireland, England, as well as representing my country for 14 years.

“I could never have imagined what my career would become when I played for Lisburn Youth as a boy. It’s been a dream, a privilege and an honour to represent so many great clubs and work under managers and coaches who have helped mould my career.”

He added: “I enjoyed every second I wore the Northern Ireland shirt and will be forever thankful for the support I was given.

“Now I’m looking forward to spending time with my wife Fran, my son Bobby and daughter Alexis, and enjoying some of the things I’ve missed out on down the years.”

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Emma Duffy

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