Steph Bannon: Sunderland Ladies captain ready to focus on teaching career
Sunderland Ladies' Steph Bannon says she retired because juggling her teaching career with elite training was proving a difficult balance.
Bannon, 28, ended a 15-year association with the Lady Black Cats by captaining them to a fifth-place finish in the Women's Super League Spring Series.
She works full time as a PE teacher at Unity City Academy in Middlesbrough.
"Every week I was playing against top international players and it was difficult," Bannon told BBC Look North.
"My training was hindered, because I couldn't go in as much as I would have liked as I was always at school.
"I struggled to do midweek games in school-time, my school has been fantastic with me but unfortunately I had to choose between one or the other."
Among the highlights of Bannon's football career were an FA Cup final appearance in 2009, where only a last-minute goal for top-flight champions Arsenal edged out then second-tier Sunderland.
She also led them to a trio of Premier League triumphs and then promotion to Womens' Super League One in 2014.
"I've no regrets about the path I took," Bannon added.
"I chose to become a teacher because I love it, I love teaching the kids. I've had a great career in football and now it's time for me to excel at being a teacher."