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Liverpool ace Gilly Flaherty retires from football bringing curtain down on 22-year playing career

GILLY FLAHERTY has called time on her spell as a footballer following a playing career spanning just over two decades. 

The Liverpool centre-back, 31, made her decision after a chat with loved ones following the passing of her father shortly before Christmas.

Gilly Flaherty made 177 appearances in the WSL playing for Arsenal, Chelsea, West Ham and Liverpool

Flaherty made history when she became the first player to score a goal in the Women’s Super League

The WSL veteran was part of a Chelsea team that won the Blues’ first trophy double with their FA Cup and WSL title wins in 2015

Flaherty’s news comes three days before Matt Beard’s Reds take on Manchester United away.

The match is one of six games taking place this weekend with the return Women’s Super League action. 

The former England centre-back, who began her journey as a player at the age of nine in Millwall Lionesses’ youth team, says her decision was one that had not been taken easily. 

The London-born WSL star currently holds the record for highest number of appearances as a player in the league having featured in 177 games. 

Flaherty told Liverpool’s website: “It isn’t a decision I’ve taken lightly but one I’ve reached after speaking with those closest to me.

“Losing my dad just before Christmas has left me heartbroken – for 22 years we shared our love of football and playing-wise I don’t want to carry on without him by my side.

“Playing-wise, I know the right decision is for me to call it a day. The time is right for me to be around my family and to be nearest to those closest to me.

“I want to thank Liverpool, especially Beardy (Matt Beard) and Russ (Fraser) for bringing me to the club.

“I’d also like to thank the Liverpool fans for supporting me and taking me in.

“Even though it has not been a finished journey I’d like to think the fans saw commitment and dedication to the badge from me and I gave 110 per cent in every game.

“I also wish to thank the players for being there for me throughout my time at the club and I wish them nothing but success for the rest of the season.

“And to all the former teammates I’ve ever had the pleasure to share a field with and the professionals I’ve played against on a weekly basis.

“I’m grateful to have been part of an era before we turned pro, where we had to work as well as play football.”

Flaherty began her senior career at Arsenal in 2006, a club with whom she would win 17 trophies during a seven-year stint with the side. 

Silverware wins include five FA Cups and a Champions League winners medal with the Gunners

And the defender also won four WSL titles during her playing career.

In 2011 Flaherty became first player to score a goal in the Women’s Super League with her firing home from a Kim Little corner kick to seal Arsenal’s 1-0 win against Chelsea in April that year. 

She would later join the Blues in January 2014 going on to win two of her four WSL titles with the team before a 2018 move to a West Ham side then coached by Beard. 

And in July last year Flaherty would be reunited with Beard when she joined his Liverpool team following their promotion and return to the top tier. 

Beard, 45, said: “She has achieved everything there is to achieve in the domestic game.

“We just wish her every success in all her future endeavours.”

Flaherty appeared in her last game when the ninth-placed Reds beat West Ham 2-0 at home in December. 

Flaherty joined Liverpool in July 2022 and played her final game for the club last December

A win against United could see the team move up to eighth spot should Aston Villa draw or defeat Tottenham on Saturday.

Flaherty added: “It’s been an honour to have been there from the very beginning, to have committed my whole career to English football and to the WSL for the past 11 or 12 years.

“To have witnessed the growth and be a part of that has been truly special.”