Steph Bannon: Sunderland Ladies captain ready to focus on teaching career

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Steph Bannon: Sunderland Ladies captain content with decision to retire

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."

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