CHRIS Brunt has today announced his retirement from international football. The Northern Ireland midfielder has asked the Club to publish the following statement on his behalf.
After a period of lengthy consideration I have taken the difficult decision to retire from international football.
I have spent a lot of time thinking it over but I feel, at this point in my career, I need my sole football focus to be on helping West Bromwich Albion return to the Premier League. After 14 years of international football this also gives me the opportunity to dedicate more time to my family.
The past six years, since Michael has been our manager, have been the most enjoyable of my international career. It has always been an honour to represent my country but Michael restored pride following a difficult period for us as a team. He took us to a new level and for that I will always be grateful.
He is one of the best managers I've worked with at any level of football and I have nothing but admiration and respect for the job he’s done and continues to do. Not only that, he’s also a genuinely good guy who I enjoy spending time with and learning from.
I would also like to thank my team-mates and all of the staff who have helped me over the years. A special thank you to the medical team who gave me so much support during our last campaign, especially after my knee injury.
To all of my family, who have dedicated so much of their lives to supporting me while representing Northern Ireland, thank you so much. I know you have enjoyed it every bit as much as I have.
Lastly, but most importantly, I would like to thank the Northern Ireland fans, who have provided atmospheres I will remember for the rest of my days. It was always a pleasure to play in front of you. I look forward to returning to Windsor Park on your side of the white line.
It was my pleasure.
The 33-year-old midfielder has won 65 caps for Northern Ireland, netting three goals during the 14 years he represented his country.
Brunt made his debut, while playing domestic football for Sheffield Wednesday, in August 2004 - beginning his journey with a goalless draw against Switzerland in Zurich.
His final cap came against the same opposition, with the same scoreline, when Michael O’Neill’s men drew their FIFA World Cup Play-Off second-leg game last November, this time in Basel.
Brunt netted his first international goal, a free-kick at San Marino, in February 2009. His final goal for Northern Ireland - another perfectly placed free-kick - came against the Czech Republic at Windsor Park in September 2017.
It is perhaps his creativity for which he will be remembered by the Green and White Army - his pinpoint deliveries leading to many important goals.
He played eight qualifiers as Northern Ireland reached their first major tournament in 30 years - the 2016 UEFA European Championships in France. A knee injury cruelly robbed him of the opportunity to play a part on the pitch but it is testament to the man that he still travelled to France to encourage his team-mates in the changing room and from the sidelines.
He finishes his international career 17th on Northern Ireland’s all-time caps list.