The 2023-24 Women’s Super League season will mark the end of the career of England icon Steph Houghton. She is currently a Manchester City defender and a former captain of England’s national soccer team.

At 35 years old, Houghton is one of the players on City‘s championship-contending team. She also holds the record for most appearances for the Citizens. But despite her 121 caps, Houghton hasn’t cracked the ice with England since 2021.

“There is no easy way to say it, but I am retiring from football at the end of the current WSL season”, she posted to X. “Taking the decision to retire is such a difficult thing to do. Whilst age comes to every player, it makes it no easier having to say the words out loud. Football has been my life; my passion and I have loved the career I have had.

“My biggest thanks, appreciation and love belongs to my husband and inspiration, Stephen, my mam, my dad, my brother Stuart, the rest of my family, Matthew Buck, and all my closest friends for your love, guidance, understanding and support – it has been my constant.”

Club comments on leader’s legacy

City coach Gareth Taylor has praised her, calling her an “icon” who will make a tremendous impression on the sport of soccer.

“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.

“Steph will excel in whatever she puts her mind to, and on behalf of everyone here at Manchester City, I’d like to express our immense gratitude and wish Steph all the very best for the future.”

Steph Houghton leaves her mark on women’s soccer in England

Houghton debuted for England on March 8, 2007, in Milton Keynes, against Russia. In 2009, when the sport first became professional, the Football Association granted central contracts to 17 female players, including Houghton. She has also served as captain since 2014 when manager Mark Sampson was in charge.

The 35-year-old has 121 national team caps overall, including her 100th cap in November 2018. Houghton participated in the 2020 Summer Olympics and scored three goals for Great Britain in 2012.

Throughout her twenty-year career, the defender justifiably garnered praise from every corner of the sport. Interestingly, her career coincided with the rise of women’s soccer all over the world.

Ten years ago, City fielded its first professional squad, and she was the only one to make it this far. Along with the fast professionalization of the sport, her career spanned four clubs: Sunderland, Leeds, Arsenal, and Manchester City.

Houghton will be the most decorated player in City history and hold the record for most appearances when she retires. During her career, she had great success with Arsenal, winning two league championships, two FA Cups, and three League Cups.

Next, she moved on to City, where she added another title, three FA Cups, and four League Cups to her collection.