Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team midfielder Shannon Smyth has announced her retirement from international football after taking a break from playing to concentrate on her coaching career.
The 28-year-old from Milwaukee won 33 caps between her debut in August 2010 against Netherlands and her final game in a green shirt against Germany in October 2014. Ireland manager Sue Ronan left the door open for the midfield dynamo to return for the forthcoming EURO 2017 qualifiers but Smyth has now confirmed that her playing days at the highest level are over.
Announcing her decision, Shannon Smyth said: “I had a fantastic discussion with Sue when I made my initial decision last winter and I felt that the timing was right for me to go out on my own terms, healthy and motivated to pursue my coaching career full-time. Sue did offer me a spot to join the squad for one more outing against the USA in May, but I am very content with my final efforts on the night of my last Irish game in Germany and I felt it best to leave that spot available for another player who was in the same position as I was five years ago, hoping to break into the squad and hold on to that spot.
“It was a very hard decision for me, but I had been thinking about it as the World Cup qualifiers were coming to an end and 2014 marked the end of my fifth season in Norway. Having grown up in America, my decision to play professional soccer abroad was synonymous with my aspirations to play for Ireland's senior squad. I hadn't earned my first cap until after the summer break in my first year in Norway so my intentions and work had begun to pay off. The next four years were truly a labour of love to push myself as a pro and to compete with such an amazing group of women and staff whenever called in with the Irish team.
“I know myself and I knew that if I stayed even just one more season in Norway that would bring me to the beginning of qualifiers for the Euros which in my mind is truly another two-three year commitment to see out the campaign. I had to be honest with myself and ask if I saw my life on the pitch three years down the road. I suppose it is a very much an all or nothing approach which I hope was also evident in my attitude to my teammates and coaches every time I stepped on the field. To be able to travel the world with your best friends and compete in a game you love was a gift and a time in my life I will remember forever.”
Women’s National Team manager Sue Ronan said: “It was a pleasure to work with Shannon. She made her debut in my first match in charge of the senior team and she never let me down. Her attitude on and off the pitch was first class and infectious. She was constantly pushing the bar and demanding more off everybody and I have no doubt she will go on to have a very successful career in coaching. When she told me of her plans after the Germany game last September I told her go away and think about it and I would leave the door open for her as she would be a great asset to have for the Euro 2017 qualifiers. She has now confirmed her decision and I respect her for that. Shannon has been a great servant to Irish women’s football and I am sure she will contribute even more in the future.”
Since quitting playing, Smyth has returned to the USA and is Youth Technical Director at North Shore United in Wisconsin where she oversees the programme for boys and girls from U11 to U14 and is Head Coach of the U12 and U13 Girls Teams. She is also a coaching licence instructor in her home state, Wisconsin, and a staff coach for the USA’s Olympic Development Program.