FORMER Ireland midfielder Stephen McPhail has announced his retirement from professional football.
The Dubliner finished his career with Shamrock Rovers and made the announcement via the Hoops website earlier today.
McPhail was a star at Leeds United in his youths and was part of David O'Leary's side which reached the semi finals of the Champions League in 2001.
He later captained Cardiff City to the FA Cup final in 2008 but he faced different and unexpected challenges during his time in Wales when he was diagnosed with stage one malt lymphoma.
McPhail battled back to full health and came home to sign up for Rovers in 2014. In tandem with playing, he has also been helping out with the coaching in their underage section.
"Today I announce my retirement from professional football. I have always dreaded this day coming," said the 36-year-old.
"The opportunity to play in over 500 competitive games and represent my country has been a dream come true. I am very grateful to have spent over 20 years in football. I owe so much to the best game in the world. I have had unbelievable experiences and hold many great memories. It has really moulded me into the person that I am today.
"From my Grandad Paddy bringing me to play for Rush Athletic at 5 years of age to now, I need to thank so many people for helping me along the way. I have been lucky to work with brilliant people at great football clubs.
Most of all I am thankful to my family, my friends, my amazing wife Michelle and my kids Kari and Joel for all their support. I will be forever grateful.
"I would also like to thank Home Farm for everything they did for me and Shamrock Rovers for giving me the opportunity to enjoy the last part of my career at home in Dublin. It means a lot.
"I hope to stay in the game in the future and give something back that was given to me. It is all I know and love.
"Football, thank you for everything".