CORK City legend Colin Healy has retired from professional soccer.
The 37-year-old midfielder was a mainstay of the City team during two spells at Turner's Cross, and played a key role from the bench in last year's memorable FAI Cup victory over Dundalk.
Capped at international level for Ireland, as well as playing cross-channel with Celtic, Ipswich, Coventry and Sunderland, Healy was one of the most talented players of his generation. The Ballincollig native had offers to continue playing in the League of Ireland this season with City and Waterford United, which would also have tapped into his passion for coaching, but he has now officially retired from the game.
"I would today like to announce my retirement from professional football," he told the Evening Echo.
"For over the past 20 years I've felt extremely lucky to call a sport I love my job. Representing Ireland at senior international level and making my debut for Glasgow Celtic are honours that I will cherish forever.
"Returning home to play for my hometown club Cork City FC and winning the FAI cup in my final appearance was a very proud moment for me. It was a way to retire on a high. Throughout my career I’ve worked with some of the best managers and coaches, I would like to thank them for the opportunities they have given me."
Healy also paid tribute to his family for their support throughout his career, which included twice recovering from career-threatening leg breaks.
"I would however like to especially mention my parents Pat and Betty, along with my wife Kelly and my children Arran and Hollie. The strength my family gave me during some very tough periods in my career inspired me to keep going. I am so very grateful for their unwavering support."
Healy was a highly-rated teenage prospect with Ballincollig and Wilton United before moving to Glasgow to sign with Celtic and featuring heavily when the Bhoys won the treble under Martin O'Neill in 2001, including an outstanding display in that year's League Cup final. He forced his way into the international reckoning and was on standby for the World Cup 2002 squad.
While two serious leg injuries curtailed his time abroad, he was an inspirational player on, and off, the field with Cork City. Healy's tough-tackling and measured passing made him a fulcrum at midfield, but he was also set the tone at training with his no-nonsense approach and dedication to fitness.