Northern Ireland defender Chris Baird has confirmed that he is to retire from international football to concentrate on his club career at Derby County.
The 34 year-old made his debut against Italy in 2003 and went on to win 79 caps for his country.
Baird, who has played at right-back, centre-back and more recently as a defensive midfielder for Northern Ireland, lined out in nine of the ten qualification games that took Michael O’Neill’s side to EURO 2016.
He played his final game for Northern Ireland in the tournament itself, starting in the opening match against Poland in Nice.
Speaking about his decision to retire from international football Chris Baird said: “It was a tough decision because I have enjoyed every single minute that I have played for Northern Ireland. I discussed it with my family and as I am not getting any younger I felt it was the right thing to do at this stage.
“Qualification for EURO 2016 was the icing on the cake for my international career, but I have so many fantastic memories, like the win over England and beating Spain.
“I am fortunate to have lined out with some great players over the past 13 years and I would like to thank the managers, coaches and Irish FA staff that I have worked over that time. I would also like to thank the Northern Ireland fans who have been absolutely tremendous. It is true – they are the best supporters in the world.”
Northern Ireland international Manager, Michael O’Neill, said: “Chris has been an absolute rock for me in the four years that I have been in charge. His defensive qualities, his reading of the game and his experience have been invaluable, especially in our EURO 2016 qualification campaign.
“In addition to his football ability, he is also a fantastic person and we will miss him around the squad.
“Chris has been a tremendous servant to Northern Ireland. I fully respect his decision to retire from international football at this stage and I wish him every success as he continues his highly successful club career.”