Manchester United academy product Craig Cathcart is set to retire from professional football at the age of 34, according to reports.
The Northern Ireland international recently joined Belgian outfit K.V. Kortrijk on a one-year deal after leaving Watford as a free agent at the end of last season. He previously had a loan spell in Belgium with Royal Antwerp in 2007-08 during his time at Old Trafford.
Cathcart came through the academy system at United and had loan spells at Antwerp, Plymouth Argyle and Watford before making the permanent move to Blackpool in 2010. He left Bloomfield Road in 2014, signing for Watford and remained at Vicarage Road until his release earlier this year.
The 34-year-old was on the bench for United’s memorable 7-1 win over Roma in the Champions League towards the end of the 2006-07 campaign and was also named as a substitute against Watford in the FA Cup semi-final. He then suffered a season-ending knee injury in training which scuppered his hopes of making his senior debut.
He was named Academy Player of the Year for the 2006–07 season. He played alongside fellow Northern Irishman Jonny Evans in a pre-season friendly against Kaizer Chiefs in South Africa during the summer of 2008.
Cathcart has scored two goals for his country and captained the Green and White Army during Euro 2024 qualifiers against San Marino and Finland in March. He made his last appearance for the national team against Slovenia earlier this month.
Speaking about his decision to leave Old Trafford, Cathcart revealed it was the club’s signing of Chris Smalling which made him pursue a career away from United.
He said in 2011 ahead of United’s 3-2 Premier League win at Blackpool in January: “Even though United had Vidic, Ferdinand, O’Shea and my old Northern Ireland mate Jonny Evans, I still thought there might be a chance. But when they signed Chris Smalling from Fulham, I realised the writing was on the wall. So when Ian Holloway said he was giving me the opportunity to play first-team football in the Premier League, I didn’t think twice.”