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Ward Calls Time On Ireland Career

Fifty and out for Clarets defender who ends superb international career

15 March 2019

Stephen Ward has announced his retirement from international football.

The Clarets’ left-back bows out after winning 50 caps for the Republic of Ireland.

Ward, 33, was named on the stand-by list by Mick McCarthy for the opening two games of Ireland’s European 2020 qualifying campaign.

But the Dublin-born defender believes now is the right time to stand down as McCarthy starts his second spell in charge of the national team.

“It’s with a heavy heart that I have decided to retire from international football,” said Ward.

“To represent my country has been a dream come true and the biggest honour I could have had.

Ward started 49 of his 50 games for Ireland

“To play in a couple of major championships has been the highlight and the night we beat Italy at the 2016 Euros will live with me for the rest of my life.

“I have been very proud to have played a part in those achievements and I feel this is a good time to move on.

“There are a lot of good young players and new talent coming through and I wish all of them, Mick and the staff all the best for the future.

“I’d like to thank everyone – managers, players, backroom staff I’ve worked with and the supporters – and say it was a pleasure to work with each and every one of them.”

Ward – who made his international debut in 2011 – helped Ireland reach the finals of the European Championships in both 2012 and 2016.

In the tournament in France three years ago, Ward was in the Ireland team that beat Italy 1-0 thanks to a late goal from Burnley team-mate Robbie Brady to reach the knock-out stages where the side managed by Martin O’Neill lost to 2-1 to the hosts (above).

McCarthy, who gave Ward his start in English football when he brought him from Bohemians to Wolverhampton Wanderers, initially as a forward, in 2007, said: “I'm kind of sad that I don't get to work with him with Ireland, but he's made his decision and I can understand it.

“He has had 50 caps and he can retire being proud of that achievement. I'm really proud to have worked with him because he was a really good player for me and for Ireland.

“Even though we bought Wardy as a striker, I remember the day that I put him at left-back, at Charlton Athletic, and he was outstanding, and I kept picking him there after that.

“He's had a really good career there and I'm sad to see him go but he wanted to be fair to me, fair to the other players, and fair to himself.”

Joining Burnley from Wolves in August, 2014, Ward has so far made 113 appearances for the Clarets as a vital part of Sean Dyche’s squad and returned to action in the FA Cup in January after recovering from minor knee surgery.

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