Man City & Lionesses legend Steph Houghton announces retirement from football

  • Steph Houghton will retire from football at the end of the 2023/24 season
  • Former England captain has played for Man City since 2014
  • Previously represented Arsenal, Leeds & Sunderland stretching back to 2002

Steph Houghton is ready to hang up her boots
Steph Houghton is ready to hang up her boots / Visionhaus/GettyImages

Manchester City and former England defender Steph Houghton has announced that she will retire from football at the end of the season.

Houghton has made a club record 241 appearances for City since joining in 2014 ahead of the team’s inaugural professional season. She had previously starred for Arsenal and Leeds after starting her career at Sunderland.

The centre-back played 121 times for England between 2007 and 2021, captaining the Lionesses at watershed World Cups in 2015 and 2019 in which the team reached the semi-finals both times.

Houghton will shortly turn 36 but has seen the last few years of her career hampered by frustrating injuries, ultimately leading the curtailment of her international career in the build-up to Euro 2022.

In a statement published on social media, Houghton described it as a "privilege" to play for Sunderland, Leeds and Arsenal, before acknowledging the "incredible journey" at City.

"I hope that I leave the game in a better place then when I started," she said, "…and that I have contributed in some small way to giving the girls of tomorrow a better future in football."

Steph Houghton
Houghton captained England during a crucial period of development / Richard Heathcote/GettyImages

City boss Gareth Taylor told the club's official website: "Steph is – without question – an icon of the game. Although her professional career on the pitch is now coming to an end, her legacy will be felt for so many years to come. She’s paved the way for so many to thrive in the future. 

"Steph has lived and breathed football for such a long time, and she leaves it in the strongest place it has ever been – a true testament to her leadership, hard work, talent, and dedication. I feel incredibly privileged to have been able to work with her since 2020 and know her name will be written into the history books as a true footballing great."

Houghton won the WSL twice with Arsenal in 2011 and 2012, before landing a third title with Manchester City in 2016. She also won five FA Cups and seven league cups. With City locked in a WSL title race with Chelsea, her final season could yet end on the ultimate high.