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Last Updated: Monday, 18 August, 2003, 14:04 GMT 15:04 UK
Taggart quits big stage
Leicester defender Gerry Taggart
Taggart won 51 caps for Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland defender and former captain Gerry Taggart has retired from international football.

The 32-year-old Leicester City star decided to call it a day after winning 51 caps to focus on his career with his club with whom he signed a new one-year deal last month.

His decision would also be prompted by the fact that he would find it difficult in the future to make the current Northern Ireland team with the form of Newcastle's Aaron Hughes and Sunderland's George McCartney.

Northern Ireland boss Sammy McIlroy told the big defender last week that he would not be named in the forthcoming squad for the European Championship qualifiers.

''I spoke to Gerry last week just to tell him what I was doing with the next squad and that I was going to stick with the young lads," said McIlroy.

"He understood about the rebuilding and was talking about getting his own house in order at Leicester City and making their first team.

"Now he has come to the decision to retire from international football and I respect that.
Gerry was a great servant to Northern Ireland and a great character to have around the squad
Sammy McIlroy

"I actually stopped him from doing it last season but have no ill feeling towards him and wish him well.

"Gerry was a great servant to Northern Ireland and a great character to have around the squad.

"He was a big competitor and one of my many captains.''

Taggart follows quickly on the footsteps of Jim Magilton, Neil Lennon and Kevin Horlock who have retired from international football recently.''

Taggart, who scored seven times for his country, was a popular figure with the fans.

Taggart would have won many more caps when he was apparently exiled from international football when Lawrie McMenemy was in charge.

McIlroy immediately reinstated Taggart who was unfortunately hit by a litany of injuries in the past two seasons.

Last season he asked to remain on the sidelines in a bid to win a new contract at Leicester City. Taggart's final international was last year in the 3-0 European Championship defeat in Spain.


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