Westfield Matildas striker Sarah Walsh is set to call time on her illustrious international career following the team’s upcoming tour of the USA.
Boasting 67 caps for the Westfield Matildas including 31 goals, Sarah leaves a strong legacy in helping grow the sport domestically, both at home and abroad, as a professional player.
Following in close friend and former Matilda Julie Murray’s footsteps, Sarah became one of the few players to break into the US professional leagues playing for Pali Blues, Sky Blue FC, Saint Louis Athletica and Boston Breakers.
Domestically she was a foundation member of the Sydney FC Westfield W-League squad where she scored in the 2009 Grand Final to help secure Sydney FC their first Westfield W-League Championship.
A veteran of three AFC Asian Cups, a FIFA World Cup and the 2004 Athens Olympics, Walsh has spent an impressive eight years playing at international level in a period that has seen the Westfield Matildas rise to No.9 in the world rankings and cement themselves as one of the top teams in women’s football.
An influential member of the Westfield Matildas both on and off the park Walshy, as she is widely known, has decided to step out of the international arena to concentrate on the next stage of her career in business marketing.
A succession of knee injuries have hampered the last few years of her career, including forcing her to withdraw from the Westfield Matildas squad prior to last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.
However Walsh still has a lot to give to the game not only as a player but through her work in the Illicit Drugs in Sport Club Champions Program, as an Open Universities Australia Ambassador, roles in public speaking and as a football commentator for SBS Television and Radio, member of the PFA Players Executive and work in grass roots.
“I never fully recovered from having micro fracture surgery on my right knee in December 2010. Since that surgery it has been an extremely hard and constant struggle trying to maintain the load (training) I need in order to be able to play at the international level,” Walsh said.
“I couldn’t see myself pushing through to the 2015 World Cup and felt it was the right time to step aside and let our next generation players grow into my position.
“I'm content with my decision. I know it's the right one for me and I’m thankful for my eight years with the Westfield Matildas, they feel like bonus years considering I could have taken a completely different path after enduring three knee reconstructions by my 18th birthday.
“I have many passions outside of football, with marketing being one that I am very passionate in continuing and I'm looking forward to the next part of my life to take shape. Football is an extremely important part of my life and I intend to give back to the game in one way or another,” Walsh concluded.
Having worked with Sarah for the majority of her international career Westfield Matildas head coach Tom Sermanni knows more than most how much she will be missed from the national program.
“It's always a sad day when a great player retires and certainly Sarah will go down as one of the most outstanding players to wear a Westfield Matlldas shirt,” Sermanni said.
“Blessed with blistering speed and an innate ability to create chances and score vital goals against teams at the highest level made Sarah one of our most valued players.
“However of even greater importance was her character. Plagued with a series of significant injuries during her career most players would have thrown in the towel and walked away from the game. However she continued to defy the odds and play for more years than most thought possible.
“Her team ethic, calm demeanour and good humour will be greatly missed. Sarah is an outstanding role model for the sport and an inspiration for our young up and coming players.”
Sarah is currently the all-time third highest goal scorer for the Westfield Matildas and is set to play her final match in the green and gold against the USA on September 19 in Denver, Colorado.
Sarah will continue playing in the upcoming Westfield W-League 2012/13 season.