Micky Higham has today announced his retirement from Rugby League and will take up a dual role in Leigh Centurions’ community department and as part of the coaching team.
Higham has been captain of the Centurions since his return in 2015 and guided the club to Super League promotion a year later.
He has had an illustrious career playing for the likes of St Helens, Wigan and Warrington, winning numerous trophies, while also representing England and Great Britain.
The 37-year-old will make his final appearance for Leigh in a home pre-season friendly game at the Leigh Sports Village next January.
Higham’s 19-year playing career, which started with the Centurions in 1999, has seen him make over 500 career appearances and become one of the most respected players in the country.
Leigh owner Derek Beaumont said: “The re-structuring of the Club after relegation on and off the field has been a difficult and prolonged process.
“While there were a lot of unknowns in the Qualifiers and ultimately until and after the Million Pound Game in how Keiron (Cunningham) wanted to move forward with the squad, it was not known at that time that Micky was playing his final game against Catalans.
“The home friendly game in January will be an ideal way to give Micky the swansong he deserves for all he achieved as a player in the game, in front of his own supporters.
“In the end the Club will always have to be bigger than any owner, coach or player and what is good for the Club will always be the primary focus.
“But Micky Higham is part of the DNA and I am sure he will enjoy a long and fruitful career in his new role to the benefit of all parties.”
Beaumont added: “It gave me great pleasure to bring Micky home and I paid the highest transfer fee I have made at the Club to acquire him from Warrington. It was money well spent with Micky paying me back with great leadership and professionalism, not to mention his great play.
“Two of my favourite memories will be the famous Micky dance after getting promotion and his try against Saints at LSV in Super League.
“Micky has so much to offer the Club over future years in many ways and can still add his passion, commitment and leadership skills in the coaching side. Perhaps when carrying messages on the field he could well end up spending as many minutes on there as when he played, knowing Micky!
“He can also become the face of the Club, growing the game in our community and progressing home grown talent as we build the reserves, academies and scholarship over the years.”
Micky Higham said: “I feel very fortunate and honoured to be invited to take on a wide-ranging role at my hometown Club at an exciting time in its history.
“Leigh Rugby League Club celebrates its 140th anniversary next year and is part and parcel of the fabric of a town we all hold so dear. To be able to be part of the Club as they look to return to Super League and then build a long-term future at the top level of the sport is both a huge privilege and very exciting and challenging.
“I will approach the opportunity I have been given with the same single-minded dedication that I have adopted to my playing career.
“I started my Rugby League journey at Leigh as a teenager and to go full circle and come back to finish my playing career at the Club meant everything to me.
“I’ll never forget the reception the Leigh fans gave me when I made my second debut for the Club at the Summer Bash in 2015, nearly 15 years after leaving. The supporters have been absolutely fantastic to me and I’d like to thank each and every one of them for the backing they have given me throughout my career.
“It was a dream to captain the Club back into Super League and to captain them in Super League. They are the proudest moments of my career.
“Above all, I’d like to thank my wife Kate who has supported me every step of the way and our two boys for being there and we can now look forward to many more hugely rewarding times and occasions with this fantastic Club.”
Higham added: “Derek showed great faith in me by paying a big fee to bring me back to Leigh and his single-minded investment, acumen, drive, passion and vision to make Leigh Centurions one of the top clubs in the game with a fantastic infrastructure that brings through the youth of the town and develops them into top players is inspirational.
“People like Derek come along once in a lifetime and I am so proud to be sharing this journey with him and all the great staff at Leigh Centurions. The directors, staff, players and supporters all have a huge passion for Leigh which is simply fantastic.
“If I can play a part in bringing through the next generation of players and helping support all the off-field departments to achieve our goals, it will rank with anything I achieved as a player.
“The community department at the Club is second to none and I am really looking forward to being involved in a great team there while also helping the playing and commercial departments and learning new skills, driving forward the off-field business and developing the infrastructure.
“It was initially with a heavy heart that I came to the decision to retire as a player as I’ve always thought I had at least another year in me. it was a difficult and emotional decision to make but after chatting at length to Derek, Keiron, Jukesy and the rest of the staff I came to the view that it was in the best interests of the Club and myself going forward.
“I’m looking forward immensely to my next challenge at Leigh Centurions.”