Mayo defender Keith Higgins has announced his inter-county retirement aged 35. 

The sixth Mayo player to retire since the beginning of 2021, Higgins tweeted this afternoon: "The time has come to step away. It's been an unbelievable journey and an absolute privilege. Thank you."

Making his senior inter-county debut in 2005, Higgins went onto establish himself as one of the finest defenders in the country and one of Mayo's greatest ever players. 

The Ballyhaunis player made a whopping 75 championship appearances over 16 seasons, winning eight Connacht titles and a National League title. 

He captained Mayo to the All-Ireland U21 title in 2006, winning the Young Footballer of the Year award at the end of the season.

He went on to win four All-Stars during Mayo's years in the spotlight, in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2017. 

Higgins played in six All-Ireland finals in total, including the 2016 replay, from 2006 to 2017. Mayo fell short on each occasion, though Higgins did claim a national title at senior level in 2019, starting once more at corner back they defeated Kerry in the Division 1 final.

Now in his mid-30s, he was a peripheral figure in the 2020 campaign, only coming on late in the Connacht final and was an unused substitute in December's All-Ireland final.

A dual player, Higgins also won an All-Ireland Junior Hurling Championship in 2003 and the Nicky Rackard Cup in 2016. He also won a Railway Cup with the Connacht hurlers in 2005.

"Mayo GAA would like to sincerely thank Keith for his immense contribution and commitment to Mayo GAA throughout his distinguished playing career," said county chairman Liam Moffat. "We wish Keith all the best in 2021 and beyond."

He is the sixth Mayo stalwart from the past decade to retire since the beginning of the year, after Donal Vaughan, David Clarke, Seamus O'Shea, Tom Parsons and Chris Barrett.