“It has been my greatest honor and privilege to play this game. Playing for England has and always will be the greatest gift,” White wrote.
White scored 52 goals and recorded 113 caps for England across her career which spanned more than 17 years. She made her debut against Austria in 2010.
She acknowledged that the pinnacle of her footballing career came in July, saying her “dreams came true” when she helped England win the Euro 2022.
“You don’t have to be the best at something to make your dreams come true — just look at me,” White said.
She added: “Don’t ever let someone tell you ‘you can’t do something or achieve your dreams’.
“I was once told I couldn’t play in the boys’ team and I would never play for England. Now I am retiring having made 113 caps with 52 goals for England and a European Champion.”
Having began her club career at Chelsea in 2005, she went on to play for a host of England’s biggest clubs, including Leeds, Arsenal, Notts County, Birmingham City and Man City.
She won the Women’s Super League twice with Arsenal, as well as the Women’s FA Cup on three occasions.
White has led the line consistently for England over the last few years, becoming a talisman for the team. She played for England at three Euros and three World Cups, finishing third at 2015 World Cup and fourth in 2019.
She became the Lionesses’ top scorer in 2021, passing Kelly Smith’s record of 46. She retires just one behind Wayne Rooney’s record of 53 for the most England goals for both the men’s and women’s teams.
England head coach Sarina Wiegman paid tribute to White.
“Ellen has given so much for England and we are all so proud of her,” she said. “I have only had the pleasure of working with her for this past year, but her professionalism, work rate and finishing ability is world class.
“This summer she did an amazing job for the team, she is the perfect team player and helped the younger players to find their way in international football. I already knew she was a great player but I found an even better person.
“We will miss her, but I fully understand her decision to take a new direction.”
Man City head coach Gareth Taylor also praised White, calling her an “icon of the game.”
“And although her career is now at its end, her efforts have paved the way for so many to flourish in the future,” Taylor said.
“She has given so much over the years to the game that she adores, and she leaves it in the strongest place it has ever been, which is testament to her hard work and sacrifices.
“She has been the definition of the consummate professional and I feel incredibly privileged to have been able to work with her over the past two seasons – her name will be written into the history books as an icon of women’s football.
“Whatever her next steps are, on behalf of everyone here at Manchester City, I’d like to express our immense gratitude to her and wish her all the very best for the future.”