Footballer David Healy Retires

Legendary Northern Ireland international calls time on an eventful career aged 34

Northern Ireland football legend and all-time top scorer David Healy has announced his retirement from the sport aged 34.

A striker of some renown, Healy scored twice on his international debut against Luxemborg in 2000, and went on to score against England in a World Cup qualifier at Windsor Park in 2005, and a fabulous hat trick against international giants Spain at the same venue a year later.

'I don't think too many people will be surprised,' said Healey, who hails from Killyleagh in County Down. 'I have been without a club for five months. It's dawned on me that it's time for a new challenge. The career is over and it's time to move on.'

Healy played for various English clubs including Manchester United – where he began his career – Leeds United, Fulham and Preston North End. He also enjoyed a spell at Glasgow Rangers towards the end of his career, a team he supported as a child.

On the international stage, Healy scored 36 times in 95 appearances, and last played for Northern Ireland during a defeat to Israel at Windsor Park in July 2013.

Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín praised Healy, who announced his retirement today. '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. David Healy’s 36 international goals helped make football history. As a striker he broke records, hit the net in landmark games and scored a record 13 times in 12 matches during the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign.'