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By ESPN Staff

Craigan quits Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland defender Stephen Craigan has announced his retirement from international football at the age of 34.

Motherwell captain Craigan made his senior debut in February 2003 against Finland and last featured in the Euro 2012 qualifier against Slovenia in March.

The centre-half captained his country five times and won 54 caps in total, starring in famous victories over Spain and England in 2005 and 2006.

Craigan said: "It has been a wonderful journey and I have loved every minute playing for my country.

"It has been a great privilege playing in front of the Green and White Army who have been amazing during my time with the team and I would like to thank everyone for their support and wish (manager) Nigel (Worthington) and the team all the very best in the up and coming Euro 2012 qualifiers."

Worthington paid tribute to the defender, adding: "Northern Ireland is losing a very experienced player and a truly excellent professional. Stephen has been a great servant for Northern Ireland and a fantastic ambassador for the country. It is sad to see a player like Stephen retire but I wish him all the very best in his career which lies ahead."

Despite Craigan's decision, Worthington can call on the likes of West Brom new boy Gareth McAuley, Fulham's Aaron Hughes and Manchester United's Jonny Evans - mostly used as a full-back in his international career - in the heart of defence.

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