Northern Ireland midfielder calls time on 14-year international career

Northern Ireland midfielder Chris Brunt has announced his retirement from international football.

The 33-year-old won 65 caps and scored three goals for his country in a career which began in 2004.

Brunt said he had taken the “difficult decision” in order to focus the remainder of his career solely on his club football with West Brom.

Brunt said in a statement: “After a period of lengthy consideration I have taken the difficult decision to retire from international football.

“I have spent a lot of time thinking it over but I feel, at this point in my career, I need my sole football focus to be on helping West Bromwich Albion return to the Premier League.

“After 14 years of international football this also gives me the opportunity to dedicate more time to my family.

“The past six years, since Michael [O’Neill] has been our manager, have been the most enjoyable of my international career.

“It has always been an honour to represent my country but Michael restored pride following a difficult period for us as a team. He took us to a new level and for that I will always be grateful.”

Northern Ireland boss O’Neill said he was disappointed by Brunt’s decision, but respected it.

O’Neill said: “I am disappointed that Chris is retiring as I believe that he still has much to offer the team.

“However I completely understand his decision to spend a bit more time with his young family and to concentrate fully on his club career with West Brom.

“I want to thank him for everything that he gave me on the pitch. He was a model professional and his contribution to the Northern Ireland team over the past 14 years will be remembered for a long time to come.”

Brunt made his debut in the goalless draw against Switzerland in Zurich in 2004 and ended his career against the same team in another 0-0 draw in November.

The result of that World Cup play-off second leg game effectively ended Brunt’s hopes of crowning his career by playing in a World Cup finals.

Brunt was an integral part of the Northern Ireland team that reached the Euro 2016 finals, but was ruled out of playing in France due to a knee injury.

- Press Association

 

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