sport

Ireland's Dunne steps down

Republic of Ireland defender Richard Dunne has announced his retirement from

international football.

The 34-year-old QPR player made his debut for his country in 2000, going on to win 80 caps, the last of which came against Kazakhstan last October.

Dunne, who also scored eight goals in Irish colours, said: "Retiring from international football has been an extremely difficult decision for me to make. I have represented Ireland since I was 15 years of age, and have thoroughly enjoyed all the highs and lows that have come with playing for my country.

"I will continue to support the team as they embark upon their new campaign under Martin O'Neill, and have every faith that they will qualify for France 2016. I'd like to thank everyone I worked alongside during my time with Ireland, from managers to players to backroom staff.

"A special mention also goes to the fans. Their support has been immense, and I will always be grateful to them. I have so many great memories, that will stay with me forever."

Republic of Ireland manager Martin O'Neill saluted the Dubliner, describing him as "a remarkable player for both club and country".

"I had the pleasure of working with him at Aston Villa, where he had a big influence on the field," O'Neill said.

"He has consistently given 100 per cent every time he has been called on by his country also. I wish him all the best in his club career."

Football Association of Ireland chief John Delaney added: "Richard has been a tremendous servant to his country, and is truly a player for Ireland to be proud of.

"I will never forget his performance in Moscow, which was instrumental in winning us qualification for Euro 2012. Richard and his family, particularly his parents Dick and Phyllis, will always be welcome guests in Aviva Stadium.

"On behalf of the Association, I would like to wish him and his family the very best for the future."