BELFAST: Northern Ireland’s all-time record goalscorer David Healy has retired from all football; he has been without a club since leaving Bury last May.

Healey, who scored 36 goals in 95 matches for Northern Ireland, some 23 more than anyone else, said it had been an “absolute honour” to represent his country.

He added: “After a playing career of some 18 years, the point has come for me to move on to a new challenge,” the striker said. “Over half of my life has been dedicated to playing football, but it is time to look to a future in coaching.”

Healy, 34, scored twice on his international debut 13 years ago – a 3-1 friendly victory over Luxembourg – and won his last cap in March, a 2-0 defeat by Israel in World Cup qualifying.

The peak of his career was during Euro 2008 qualifying when he claimed a competition record of 13 goals in 12 games, including a hat-trick in a 3-2 win over Spain. A further highlight came in September 2005 when he scored the only goal of Northern Ireland’s first victory against England in 33 years.

Healy, who played for Preston, Leeds and Rangers among others, said: “I enjoyed some great times on the international stage and my memories as a Northern Ireland player will always be closest to my heart.

“I hope to continue in whatever way I can, in my new career in coaching, to help Northern Ireland succeed.”

National team manager Michael O’Neill added: “David has been and will always be an iconic player in the eyes of all Northern Ireland fans. He is our most-capped outfield player, and his 36 goals in 95 caps compares with the best international strikers.

“He has already performed a scouting role for the senior international team and assisted with the U17s as part of his development as a coach. I look forward to working with him in the future.”