Former Liverpool winger Stewart Downing has announced his retirement from football.

Downing made 91 appearances for the Reds after signing with Aston Villa in July 2011.

The 37-year-old has chosen to pursue a career as a player, playing more than 700 games for six clubs on Monday – Middlesbrough, Sunderland, Villa, Liverpool, West Ham United and Blackburn Rovers.

Downing, a former England international, scored seven goals in his two seasons at Anfield and was named Man of the Game after the Reds beat Cardiff City on penalties in the 2012 League Cup final.

He left Liverpool for West Ham in the summer of 2013 and played his last professional game for Blackburn on the last day of the 2020/21 season.

A statement from Downing said: “After spending some time relaxing and thinking with my family over the summer, I have decided it is time to retire from professional football.

“First and foremost, I would like to thank my mother and father, my sisters and of course my wife and two children for their support and help throughout my career.

“I would like to give special mention to my father who influenced my career the most and I am grateful for all that he has done for me.

“I want to thank all the football clubs I’ve played for throughout my career and all their fantastic fans and staff. I also want to thank all the great coaches I’ve played for. As a kid, I could only have dreamed.” To play for the teams I have played for and to share the pitch with some of the players I have shared a seat with. I’ve played with and against some incredible players over the years.

“I look back with great pride on the 35 games I played for England and I have had incredible memories that will last a lifetime. I am very happy and fortunate to have had my career.”

“I’m looking forward to the future, be it in the media, in coaching or in management. I’ve learned a lot from the game over the years and gained a lot of experience that I can hopefully pass on to others.”

“Thank you for everything.”