Gilly Flaherty retires from professional football

Gilly Flaherty retires from professional football
Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Gilly Flaherty, the record appearance holder in the history of the Women’s Super League, is to retire
from professional football.

The 31-year-old defender joined Liverpool last July after a storied career which had seen her collect a major haul of medals in spells with Arsenal and Chelsea.

She then enjoyed a successful spell as captain of West Ham, against whom she would play her final WSL game – number 177 – in December, keeping a clean sheet as Liverpool collected a vital 2-0 win.

Flaherty’s final game as a professional came as a second half substitute in the Continental League Cup against Manchester City at Prenton Park three days later.

She had broken Lioness Jill Scott’s WSL appearance record the previous month when she made appearance number 176 against Brighton.

Winning four WSL titles, seven FA Cups and the UEFA Cup during her career,he also played for Arsenal, Chelsea and West Ham, where she served as captain for four years.

The former England international centre-back steps away from her playing career for family reasons.

Here is a full statement from Gilly Flaherty on her decision:

“I’ve taken the decision to retire from professional football. It isn’t a decision I’ve taken lightly but one I’ve reached after speaking with those closest to me.

“Losing my dad just before Christmas has left me heartbroken – for 22 years we shared our love of football and playing wise I don’t want to carry on without him by my side.

“Playing wise I know the right decision is for me to call it a day. The time is right for me to be around my family and to be nearest to those closest to me.”

“I’m grateful to have been part of an era before we turned pro, where we had to work as well as play football. It’s been an honour to have been there from the very beginning, to have committed my whole career to English football and to the WSL for the past 11 or 12 years.

“To have witnessed the growth and be a part of that has been truly special. Hopefully I’ve had a positive effect on many of those I’ve met in the dressing rooms, training pitches and stadiums along this wonderful journey.

“Thank you.”

LFC Women manager Matt Beard worked with Flaherty at West Ham before bringing her experience to the Reds as they came back into the WSL at the start of the season.

Beard said: “I’d just like to offer huge congratulations to Gilly on a wonderful career.

“She’s achieved everything there is to achieve in the domestic game.

“We just wish her every success in all her future endeavours.”

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