Marissa Callaghan Steps Down as Northern Ireland Women's Team Captain

Marissa Callaghan steps down as captain of Northern Ireland's women's football team after 89 caps and 52 matches as skipper. She will continue to play for the team, with several experienced players in contention to succeed her as captain.

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Nitish Verma
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Marissa Callaghan Steps Down as Northern Ireland Women's Team Captain

Marissa Callaghan Steps Down as Northern Ireland Women's Team Captain

Marissa Callaghan, the 38-year-old Cliftonville Ladies midfielder, has stepped down as captain of the Northern Ireland women's football team with immediate effect. Callaghan, who accumulated 89 caps with 52 matches as skipper, said the decision "was not taken lightly" but she believes it is the best choice for herself and the squad.

Callaghan led Northern Ireland to their first-ever major women's tournament at the 2022 European Championships in England. Reflecting on that historic achievement, she stated, "Leading this team for the past eight years has been an absolute honour and privilege. I am so proud of what we have achieved together, we have changed the face of women's football in Northern Ireland forever."

Despite relinquishing the captaincy, Callaghan intends to continue representing her country on the pitch. "I love representing Northern Ireland and I can't wait to continue to wear the Green shirt with pride and bring more success to our wee country,"she said. Callaghan believes the time is right for one of her teammates to take on the leadership role as the team looks ahead to the next eight years.

Northern Ireland manager Tanya Oxtoby expressed her full support for Callaghan's decision after discussing the matter at length with the veteran midfielder. "Marissa and I discussed the matter at length and I fully support her decision," said Oxtoby. "This team has had some truly memorable moments under her captaincy."

Several experienced players are in contention to succeed Callaghan as Northern Ireland captain. Southampton defender Laura Rafferty, who has led the side in Callaghan's absence, is considered a frontrunner. Other potential candidates include Simone Magill, Lauren Wade, Demi Vance, Nadene Caldwell, Rachel Furness, and Sarah McFadden. Rising star Joely Andrews could also be in the mix for the armband in the future.

Callaghan's successor will have big shoes to fill as Northern Ireland prepares for a 2025 Women's Euro qualifying double-header against Portugal on May 31 and June 4. Under Callaghan's leadership, the team made history by qualifying for their first major tournament and inspired a new generation of girls to pursue football. As one of the squad's most experienced players, Callaghan's presence on the pitch will still be invaluable even without the captain's armband.