Westfield Matildas veteran Thea Slatyer has decided to call an end to her remarkable 14-year club and international career.
With 51 A-Internationals to her name, including three goals, Slatyer helped define a key transition period in the sport, which culminated in captaining the successful Westfield Matildas in two matches at the 2010 AFC Women’s Asian Cup.
As a dominating and often imposing defender Slatyer was a fierce competitor with incredible strength and determination whenever she wore the green and gold.
A key member in the Westfield Matildas' groundbreaking performances at the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup Slatyer has been a significant influence both on and off the field in growing the reputation and profile of the team.
With her striking looks and unflinching attitude, Slatyer caught the eye of many admirers which saw her appear in a range of editorial and profile pieces including in Women’s Health, Cosmopolitan and Madison magazines.
Slatyer’s career highlight was playing in the 2004 Athens Olympics.
With a playing career that saw Slatyer play for clubs including Canberra United, Sydney FC, Newcastle Jets and overseas with Washington Freedom.
Slatyer played her final three matches earlier this year against World Champions Japan following two matches against New Zealand, where she scored a late equaliser to keep intact the Westfield Matildas 18-year undefeated record against their trans-Tasman rivals.
It was following the Japan match that Slatyer decided to hang up her boots for good. A decision that sees one of the greats of the women’s game leave a wonderful legacy for the sport.
Outside of football Slatyer has always lead an intrepid life, including working as an industrial rope access technician on skyscrapers and in the mines and offshore oil rigs, an aerospace Non Destructive Testing technician, as a mounted security officer for the Australian Turf Club, personal private bodyguard and a DJ.
Although being offered both a new contract to continue playing for the Westfield Matildas and interest from Chelsea and Liverpool in the Women’s Premier League in England, Thea has decided to pursue a different course away from football.
"Retiring from football was something I had been planning at the start of this year and the international friendly against Japan was to be my last game," Slatyer said.
"Although I did not want to make it more emotional for myself than it already was, a few of my teammates knew this was likely to be the last time I put on the green and gold and I officially retired from the Matildas following the Tokyo tour in July.
"The national team has played a monumental role in my life for the past decade and it has taken me places and given me friends that I will have forever. I am now focussing on studying engineering, horse riding and generally just kicking ass in whatever life brings.
"The most important thing I've learned from my experiences in the Matildas is to take advantage of every opportunity you are presented with, trust yourself and never ever give up."
Westfield Matildas coach Tom Sermanni, who coached Slatyer for the majority of her international career, knows that Slatyer has left an indelible mark on the Australian national team.
“Thea is a winner, a warrior and a fierce competitor. She was uncompromising in her approach and attitude and at the peak of her career was one of the most intimidating defenders in women's football," Sermanni said.
"These qualities were particularly in evidence when facing high pedigree opponents.
“Like several of our key players she was blighted by a series of serious knee injuries that curtailed her number of international appearances and career longevity.
"Despite this, her ability to recover from injury in record time highlighted her determination, professionalism and her desire to represent her country.
“Thea was without question of our most important players over the past eight years.”
Long-time friend and Westfield Matildas teammate Sarah Walsh grew up playing with Slatyer continued the praise.
“I played with Thea all the way back during a time when I was bigger than her,” Walsh said.
“I feel privileged to have been on her football journey from the start, she has had some very big moments for the Matilda's including our game against Norway at the 2007 World Cup being one that really showed what a talented and powerful player she is.”
Matildas captain Melissa Barbieri continued the praise for the retiring star.
“Strong, formidable, relentless determination and an experienced and level head in the back line is how Thea Slatyer will be remembered,” Barbieri said.
“Thea always helped teammates through tough times whilst she herself was battling through injuries.
“In her 10 years since debuting for the Matildas, T has helped shape the ‘Never Say Die’ attitude we go by today, not only on the field but off it as well, always trying to better herself in more ways than just football. It wouldn't have surprised me if she might one day fly into camp on a jet plane. Our own Superwoman!
Slatyer is currently spending her time between her house in Sydney and working as an industrial rope access technician in the mines Western Australia.