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Republic of Ireland goalkeeper Emma Byrne has announced her retirement from International football after 21 years with the national side.
Byrne retires with 134 appearances to her name as an Irish International which is a record for the Women's National Team. Beginning her senior Irish career in March of 1996 at the age of just 16, she has had a major impact on women's football throughout the country.
Speaking about her experiences with the national team Byrne has said that she will treasure her memories on being involved with the national teams set-up.
“It can only be a positive thing to look back on how many caps I got and how long I got to play at the highest level whilst representing my country.
"I have made some great friendships along the way, learned a lot from so many people, and I always loved being involved with the Ireland team. Unfortunately we never managed to qualify for a major tournament - we went close against Iceland in a play-off - but I'll treasure the memories and experiences of every time I played for Ireland”
Undoubtedly Byrne will miss being involved with the national team but she is keen to allow the younger players step up to take her place.
"It's a great achievement to step down having broken the all-time appearance record, but it's time to give other girls an opportunity to stake their claim in the team. I'll miss walking out to represent my country and all of the friends that I made, but I'm proud of my time with the team."
After representing her country with such distinction over the last 21 years, Byrne has received plenty of plaudits following her decision to retire. FAI CEO John Delaney, FAI President Tony Fitzgerald and WNT Head Coach Colin Bell have all praised her for efforts in helping women's football.
CEO John Delaney thanked Emma Byrnes’ contribution to the development of women's football in Ireland.
"Emma was a fantastic goalkeeper and ambassador for the women's game. I would like to thank Emma for her tremendous service and wish her and her family the very best for the future."
FAI President Tony Fitzgerald declared the long serving netminder as “one of Irish footballs great servants”.
"To play for Ireland for such a long time and produce the type of performances that she did says a lot about Emma's desire to represent her country. She was someone who young girls looked up to and she will forever be remembered as one of Irish football's great servants."
Also, WNT Head Coach Colin Bell heaped praise on his former goalkeeper saying that he was impressed with her professionalism in his brief time in charge to date and thanked her for contribution to the women's team.
"I'd like to thank Emma for her professionalism and her contribution to the squad in the short time that I've been the Head Coach.
"Emma's achievements at international level are rarely seen in the game and for her to represent her country over the course of 21 years is something most of us can only dream of.”