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Thursday 25 Jan 2024
‘Peerless’ Northern Ireland skipper Davis retires

Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis has brought the curtain down on his illustrious playing career.

His club, Rangers, announced his retirement from professional football today, saying that he had been an incredible servant to both his clubs and his country.

The 39-year-old midfielder has decided the time is right to hang up his boots after making 742 appearances and scoring 51 goals for top flight clubs in England and Scotland.

He had been struggling to fully recover from an ACL injury picked up while playing for Rangers in December 2022.

Northern Ireland’s most capped player, with 140 caps under his belt, Davis starred for his country for almost 20 years. He is also the most capped British player in the history of the game – and he captained his country on 82 occasions.

Davis said: “It’s a strange sensation today, but ultimately it has been at the back of my mind given the nature of the injury and my age.

“I did some testing four weeks ago and I realised I was still a little bit away. It feels like the time is right and I’m comfortable with it.”

He also said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to represent my country and the people of Northern Ireland. Every time I’ve stepped on to the pitch I’ve felt a huge amount of pride.

“There’ll be moments we shared together I’ll never forget and that was epitomised with qualification to Euro 2016 and what followed in France.

“The support and connection I’ve shared with the Green and White Army is something words alone can’t describe and I’ll always be grateful for. Thank you for the incredible support.”

Although he did not play for Northern Ireland during last year’s UEFA Euro 2024 qualification campaign due to injury, he was still considered to be the captain of the squad by Michael O’Neill.


The manager of the Northern Ireland senior men’s team said: “Whilst the news of Steven’s retirement is a sad day, particularly for football, especially in Northern Ireland, it is also a time for us to recognise an outstanding player who has had an outstanding career.

“I have known and worked with him for many years and he is a model professional and a wonderful person.”

And O’Neill added: “His leadership qualities both on and off the pitch have always been evident through both the successful times and also the difficult periods.

“His record of 140 caps, 82 as captain, has set the bar high for current and future generations of Northern Ireland players and he is truly one of the greatest we have ever produced.”

Off the pitch, in June 2017, the man originally from Cullybackey in Co Antrim was recognised for his services to football and awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Irish FA President Conrad Kirkwood said: “All good things must come to an end. Since his full debut in 2005, Steven has grown to become not only Northern Ireland’s most capped player but the most capped British player.

“As the fans’ song suggests, for most of us he is not just a firm favourite but he is simply peerless. His professionalism and dedication made him an obvious choice to captain the national side. 

“He has provided many great memories but, for me, his headed goal in the 3-1 win over Greece to secure qualification for Euro 2016 stands out.”

Davis, a boyhood Rangers fan, also spoke of his affection for the Glasgow club.

He said: “It’s been an incredible journey to get to two European finals and win the trophies that I have, share those moments with the fans, be within the dressing room with my family after the games.

“It’s such a special football club and it goes without saying that I’m going to miss it, but I’ve had an incredible time here.”