Liverpool defender and record WSL appearance maker Flaherty announces retirement

Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Liverpool defender and Women's Super League (WSL) record appearance maker Gilly Flaherty has announced her retirement from playing at the age of 31 for family reasons.

Flaherty made 177 WSL appearances with Arsenal, Chelsea, West Ham and Liverpool, whom she joined last July.

She brings down the curtain on a career that saw her win four WSL titles, seven Women's FA Cups and the Women's Champions League in 2007.

London-born Flaherty, who also won nine caps for England, took the decision to hang up her boots following the recent death of her father.

"It isn't a decision I've taken lightly but one I've reached after speaking with those closest to me," she said in a statement published on Liverpool's official website on Thursday.

"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."

Former West Ham captain Flaherty's final WSL appearance came against the Hammers in a 2-0 win for Liverpool last month.