Sheffield United legend Phil Jagielka has announced his retirement from football this week at the age of 41 following a 23-year career.

Jagielka joined United’s youth academy aged 15 and made his first-team debut in 2000, playing for the Blades over 300 times and going on to represent England at a World Cup.

The centre-back’s United career was defined by his unerring dependability in defence and several iconic moments.

Jagielka said on Instagram: “Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would ever get to play football at the highest level for some amazing clubs as well as my country.”

The defender was an ever-present for the 2000s Blades side that achieved promotion to the Premier League, making 133 consecutive league appearances between 2004 and 2007.

‘Jags’ scored the decisive goal in United’s first top-flight win in 12 years against Middlesbrough in 2006, and even made an emergency appearance as a goalkeeper in the club’s 1-0 victory over Arsenal where he famously saved Robin Van Persie’s close-range effort.

After swapping Sheffield for Merseyside in 2007 and spending 12 years representing Everton, Jagielka returned to Bramall Lane in 2019 following the side’s promotion back to the Premier League, making a further 22 appearances for the club.

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom said of his second spell at the club: “There were some key moments where how Phil acted and how he behaved, he really showed why he played at the top for so long and had a tremendous career.” 

Jagielka scored three times in 40 appearances for England, and was a regular at the 2014 World Cup as well as being selected in the Euro 2012 squad.

He also had short spells at Championship sides Derby County and Stoke City prior to announcing his retirement.

Sheffield United shared a video on X of Jagielka’s impressive long-range strike against Leeds in 2002, as well as saying: “Congratulations on an amazing career, Jags!”