Stephen Ward announces his retirement from international football
Burnley defender Stephen Ward has announced his retirement from international football.
The former Bohemians man, 33, scored on his international debut against Northern Ireland in 2011 and went on to represent the Boys In Green 50 times.
"It's with a heavy heart that I have decided to retire from international football. To represent my country has been a dream come true and the biggest honour I could have had," said Ward.
"To play in a couple of major championships has been the highlight and the night we beat Italy at the 2016 Euros will live with me for the rest of my life.
"I have been very proud to have played a part in those achievements and I feel this is a good time to move on. There are a lot of good young players and new talent coming through and I wish all of them, Mick [McCarthy] and the staff all the best for the future.
"I'd like to thank everyone – managers, players, backroom staff I've worked with and the supporters – and say it was a pleasure to work with each and every one of them."
Ireland boss Mick McCarthy named Ward in a provisional 38-man squad for the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against Gibraltar and Georgia but following discussions, he was not named in the trimmed down 23-man squad.
"I signed Stephen [Ward] first from Bohemians and worked with him at Wolves, and I'm kind of sad that I don't get to work with him with Ireland but he's made his decision and I can understand it," said McCarthy.
"He has had 50 caps and he can retire being proud of that achievement. I'm really proud to have worked with him because he was a really good player for me and for Ireland.
"Even though we bought Wardy as a striker, I remember the day that I put him at left-back, at Charlton Athletic, and he was outstanding, and I kept picking him there after that. He's had a really good career there and I'm sad to see him go but he wanted to be fair to me, fair to the other players, and fair to himself."
Stephen Ward's International Career
Debut: v Northern Ireland, Aviva Stadium, May 24, 2011
First Goal: v Northern Ireland, Aviva Stadium, May 24, 2011