LFC WomenGilly Flaherty announces retirement from football

Published 12th January 2023
By Andy Kelly

Gilly Flaherty has announced her decision to retire from football.

The 31-year-old defender - who is the Barclays Women’s Super League's all-time record appearance holder - joined Liverpool FC Women last July after a storied career, which had seen her collect a major haul of medals with Arsenal and Chelsea.

She then enjoyed a successful spell as captain of West Ham United Women, against whom she would play her last WSL game – number 177 – in December, keeping a clean sheet as LFC Women collected a vital 2-0 win.

Flaherty’s final game as a professional came as a second-half substitute in the Continental League Cup against Manchester City Women at Prenton Park three days later.

She had broken Lioness Jill Scott’s WSL appearance record the previous month, when she tallied run-out number 176 against Brighton & Hove Albion Women.

The former England international centre-back steps away from her playing career for family reasons, a decision which is fully supported by everyone at Liverpool FC.

Gilly explained in a statement: “I’ve taken the decision to retire from professional football.

"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 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.”

A proud Londoner, Flaherty spent a period in the youth set-up at Millwall before joining Arsenal, beginning her senior career in 2006.

In 2011 she scored the first goal in WSL history against Chelsea Women, a club she would later join in 2014, before four years at West Ham, where she served with distinction as captain.

She has collected four WSL titles, seven Women’s FA Cup wins and a UEFA Cup win during her career.

Gilly added: “I’d like to thank all the managers I’ve played under, from beginning at Millwall, through Arsenal, Chelsea, West Ham and now Liverpool.

“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.

"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.

"Hopefully I’ve had a positive effect on many of those I’ve met in the dressing rooms, training pitches and stadiums along this wonderful journey.

“Thank you.”

LFC Women manager Matt Beard worked with Flaherty at West Ham before bringing her experience to the Reds as they came back into the WSL at the start of the season.

He said: “I’d just like to offer huge congratulations to Gilly on a wonderful career. She’s achieved everything there is to achieve in the domestic game.

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

Published 12th January 2023