Steph Houghton has announced that she will retire from professional football at the end of the 2023/24 season.

Manchester City’s captain and leader for over a decade, the defender is the Club’s record appearance holder and also its most decorated player.

The only remaining player from our original professional side, Houghton calls time on a career which has seen her continually progress the women’s game both on and off the pitch.

For City, she has figured twice in the Barclays Women’s Super League Team of the Year and won eight major trophies.

The first of those came in her first season, when Nick Cushing’s side beat Arsenal in the 2014 Continental Cup final.

A first WSL title would follow in 2016, with City going the entire season unbeaten, alongside a second League Cup trophy, while our maiden FA Cup triumph arrived a year later with a 4-1 win over Birmingham City at Wembley Stadium.

Houghton was a central figure in each of those early achievements and has continued to drive the Club forward to our more recent successes.

After becoming the first City player to reach 100 appearances in 2018, she would help the Club to another domestic double the following season, with FA Cup and Conti Cup final wins over West Ham and Arsenal respectively.

Another FA Cup triumph would follow in November 2020, when Gareth Taylor’s side beat Everton in extra time at Wembley.

Later that season Houghton would reach yet another significant milestone for the Club, making her 200th appearance against the Toffees in March 2021.


A fourth Conti Cup triumph 12 months later marks the most recent piece of silverware that the captain has helped City claim but, with the WSL title race gathering momentum, one final league crown remains a possibility for the Club legend.

Head Coach Gareth Taylor paid tribute to Houghton, saying: “Steph is – without question – an icon of the game. Although her professional career on the pitch is now coming to an end, her legacy will be felt for so many years to come. She’s paved the way for so many to thrive in the future. 

“Steph has lived and breathed football for such a long time, and she leaves it in the strongest place it has ever been – a true testament to her leadership, hard work, talent, and dedication.
“I feel incredibly privileged to have been able to work with her since 2020 and know her name will be written into the history books as a true footballing great.

“Steph will excel in whatever she puts her mind to, and on behalf of everyone here at Manchester City, I’d like to express our immense gratitude and wish Steph all the very best for the future.”

Managing Director Charlotte O’Neill echoed Taylor’s sentiment, adding: “Players like Steph are incredibly special. What she has done – and continues to do – for women’s football both on and off the pitch, has been incredible.

“Steph is truly someone who deserves to be remembered as a legend of the game, and I have no doubt she will continue making her mark as she embarks on this new chapter of her life and career. She will always have the support of her City family, wherever that takes her.”

A footballing giant

Steph Houghton’s legacy at Manchester City is about far more than her on-pitch achievements, but they certainly paint a good picture of the impact she’s had during an illustrious ten years at the Club.

With 241 matches and counting, she’s featured more times for City than any other women’s player, having also been the first to both 100 and 200 appearances.

As well as claiming eight major honours at the Joie Stadium and figuring in both the 2017/18 and 2018/19 PFA WSL Team of the Year, she was also the first player in the league’s history to chalk up 150 appearances and 100 wins.

The list goes on for a player and personality who has been one of the driving forces behind City’s success to date.

It’s not been all plain sailing for the captain, and she’s had to deal with setbacks across that decade, but she’s always carried herself with the utmost professionalism.

And the energy she exuded from the dugout during City’s recent 3-1 WSL victory over Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium epitomised the passion she has for the Club, and her crucial role on and off the pitch.

For the past decade, she’s been the leading figure in an ever-changing landscape of women’s football and has played a crucial role in guiding some of the game’s leading lights from blossoming prospects to established internationals.

The way in which she talks about Khiara Keating and Alex Greenwood for example, one an exciting young star who looks destined for the top, the other one of the finest defenders in the game who’s already there, exemplifies the positive influence she has on all of her team-mates.

“I remember saying to her [Khiara Keating] on the first day of pre-season: ‘you need to have a really good preseason, Khi, because you have the potential to be unbelievable if you wanted to be’.

“We have people like Khiara, Alex [Greenwood] who’s been unbelievable for us the last three of four seasons. We’ve got the likes of Jill Roord who have come in and added so much more quality.

“They’re not just my team-mates, they’re my mates as well. They are special and that will be perfect if we could do something special at the end of this season.”

With Houghton gone, the 2024/25 campaign will be the start of a new chapter in City’s professional story.

There’s every chance that Gareth Taylor’s side will go into the season with a WSL title under our belts, and our captain would deserve nothing more than to sign off by lifting the trophy.

But her time won’t be defined by success this season. Whether she likes to admit it or not, Houghton is already, and always will be, a City legend.

Everyone at Manchester City would like to congratulate Steph on her incredible career so far, and wish her the best of luck once she hangs up her boots in May.