The highest-scoring player in any UEFA European Championship qualification round, Northern Ireland's all-time leading marskman David Healy has announced his retirement.
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Northern Ireland's all-time record goalscorer David Healy said upon his retirement that it had been an "absolute honour" to represent his country.
Healy, who scored 36 times in 95 matches for Northern Ireland (23 goals more than anyone else), has been without a club since parting company with Bury FC in May. "After a playing career of some 18 years, the point has come for me to move on to a new challenge," the striker said. "Over half of my life has been dedicated to playing football, but it is time to look to a new future in coaching."
Now 34, Healy netted twice on his international debut 13 years ago – a 3-1 friendly victory over Luxembourg – and won his last cap in March, a 2-0 defeat by Israel in FIFA World Cup qualifying. Healy's pomp came in UEFA EURO 2008 qualifying, when he registered a competition record 13 goals in 12 games, including a hat-trick in a memorable 3-2 success against Spain. His exploits were rewarded with a special award from UEFA President Michel Platini. Another highlight came in September 2005 when he got the only goal of Northern Ireland's first victory against England in 33 years.
"I enjoyed some great times on the international stage and my memories as a Northern Ireland player will always be closest to my heart," added the forward, who counts Preston North End FC, Leeds United AFC and Rangers FC among his former clubs. "I hope to continue in whatever way I can, in my new career in coaching, to help Northern Ireland succeed."
National team manager Michael O'Neill added: "David has been and will always be an iconic player in the eyes of all Northern Ireland fans. He is our most-capped outfield player, and his 36 goals in 95 caps compares with the best international strikers. He has already performed a scouting role for the senior international team and assisted with the U17s as part of his development as a coach. I look forward to working with him in the future."