Chris Baird announces retirement from football
Last Updated: 07/02/19 1:02pm
Former Northern Ireland defender Chris Baird has announced his retirement after 18 years as a professional footballer.
Baird played for Southampton and Fulham in the Premier League and was last playing for Derby in the Sky Bet Championship last season.
The 36-year-old, who won 79 caps for his country, released a statement on Thursday confirming his decision to retire with immediate effect.
"After 18 years as a professional, the time has come for me to hang up my boots," Baird said.
"It has been one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make to retire from the game I love and that has given me so much.
"Looking to the future, I want to stay involved in the game in some capacity and I will now look at all the options to see what I can do next after hanging up my boots."
Baird was part of the Southampton squad that reached the FA Cup final in 2003 and also featured in the Fulham team that made it to the Europa League final seven years later.
The right-back had a 13-year career with his country, that climaxed with an appearance the 2016 European Championships in France.
"Playing in an FA Cup final with Southampton was something I always dreamed off and to reach the Europa League final with Fulham was something that will live with me forever," Baird added.
"Qualifying and going with Northern Ireland to Euro 2016 is undoubtedly one of the highlights of my career and I am sure it is still talked about by all of the GAWA (green and white army)."