Liverpool defender Gilly Flaherty has announced her retirement from football at the age of 31 due to family reasons.
The WSL’s all-time top appearance maker has lifted nine league titles during her time with Arsenal and Chelsea, and went on to captain West Ham during the club’s first season in the top flight. She joined Liverpool in the summer of 2022, reuniting with former Hammers boss Matt Beard.
Flaherty made a record 177 WSL appearances, with her final league match coming against former side West Ham in December. The defender helped Liverpool to a clean sheet in a 2-0 victory.
“I’ve taken the decision to retire from professional football,” Flaherty said in a statement released on Liverpool’s official club 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.”
Flaherty began her youth career at Millwall, before moving to Arsenal in 2003. She made her senior debut for a star-studded Gunners side at the age of 15. The centre-back moved to Chelsea in 2014, before joining West Ham ahead of their debut season in the top flight in 2018.
She retires having lifted 17 major trophies across a 16-year playing career.
“I’d like to thank all the managers I’ve played under, from beginning at Millwall, through Arsenal, Chelsea, West Ham and now Liverpool,” Flaherty added. “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.”