Westfield Matildas midfielder Collette McCallum has announced her retirement effectively ending her dream of playing at a third consecutive FIFA Women’s World Cup.
McCallum is set to make her final appearance when the Westfield Matildas take on Scotland tonight (12:30am AEST Friday 10 April) in Falkirk.
Arguably the toughest decision an athlete has to make is the one to call time on their career and McCallum, who turned 29 last month, reached that point following a meeting with Westfield Matildas Head Coach Alen Stajcic and the medical staff during the squad’s current European tour.
Ninth on the all-time Westfield Matildas appearance list (80 ‘A’ internationals appearances and 11 goals) in an international career that has spanned a decade, McCallum came to the decision knowing the toll on her body and specifically her knees, has meant she will be unable to get back to her prime.
Cruelly, the wear and tear she has endured on her knee has hampered and ultimately prevented her from representing her country with esteem on more occasions. Despite her best intentions and efforts, injury has meant the chance of her being part of a third World Cup campaign proved a bridge too far.
“It has been a great honour and privilege to represent my country for the last ten years,” McCallum said.
“Unfortunately my body can't deal with the intensity and load required to play at this level anymore. I have pushed my knees as far as they can go and I am content with my decision to hang up the boots.
“Although it is disappointing to miss the World Cup, I feel that I have been fortunate enough to experience two previous campaigns of which the memories will never leave me.
“The team we have now is looking strong and preparing really well, and I'm looking forward to watching them compete against the best in June.
“There are countless people I’d like to thank in respect to my Westfield Matildas career – coaches, medical staff, family, friends and especially my partner Ricky for supporting me to pursue my love for the game.
“Moving forward I won’t be a stranger to the game and would like nothing more than to contribute to the continued growth of women’s football in Australia. I wish Staj, his coaching staff and my team-mates all the very best in Canada.”
Stajcic could not speak highly enough of McCallum’s impact on the national team and what she has brought to Australian women’s football on a broader scope.
“It is with sad news that one of our truly greatest ever Matildas has succumbed to injury and decided to retire,” Stajcic said.
“In my opinion, Collette is in the top four or five Matildas of all time and has represented our country with distinction on many occasions. She is a wonderful ambassador on and off the field for our sport.
“Collette has remained with us here on tour and we’re hopeful of being able to give her a farewell with a cameo towards the end of the game against Scotland.”
That her swansong will come against the Scottish is fitting and somewhat poetic given she was born in Glasgow and that her grandfather will be in attendance at the match to watch her for the first and last time.
The 132nd player capped for the Westfield Matildas, notable highlights of McCallum’s career include being named in the FIFA All-Star squad at the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup in 2006, being part of Australia’s AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2010 winning squad, and playing every game at the FIFA 2011 Women’s World Cup as the Westfield Matildas reached the quarter finals.
McCallum won Perth Glory’s Women’s Player of the Year in a season where she only played five matches due to injuring her knee, while she also helped the Westfield W-League outfit finish top of the table and reach the Grand Final last season.
Scotland v Westfield Matildas
Falkirk Stadium, Falkirk
Thursday 9 April 2015
Kick-Off: 2:30pm local time (12:30am AEST, Friday 10 April)
Join the GREEN & GOLD ARMY Family, Friends and Fans tour to watch the Westfield Matildas in action at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada. Click here for more information.
See all of the Westfield Matildas’ games at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 live on SBS ONE.