Wales’ record goal scorer Helen Ward announces retirement
Wales’ record scorer Helen Ward has announced her retirement from international football and will hang up her boots at club level at the end of this season.
The 36-year-old Watford skipper has netted 44 goals in 105 Wales appearances, having made her debut in 2008.
Ward rejoined the Hornets, her first club, in 2017 following the birth of her second child, after spells with Arsenal, Chelsea and Reading.
In a message on social media, the forward said: “The pride I feel every time I hear those words; ‘Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’ and the sense of belonging will never, ever leave me.
“Playing for Wales became my why. It’s the reason I kept going and wanting to improve; the reason I came back after having my children, why I didn’t let Covid be the end and why I realise that it’s not where you are born that counts, but where you feel like you belong and I’ve never felt more at home than when I’m with my team, in Wales.
“It breaks my heart that I didn’t make it to a major tournament with this team, that I wasn’t at my peak when so many of team-mates were and are. But I know they will make it soon and they will shine on the biggest stage of all and I cannot wait to be their best cheerleader when that happens.
“It’s not always been easy, but it’s been the best ride of my life.”
Ward represented England at under-23 level before playing for Wales, qualifying through her grandmother.
In another statement that appeared on Watford’s official website, Ward said that since making her debut in 2001 aged 15, she has “been through every emotion possible”.
She added: “To the players, staff and wonderful supporters of Arsenal, Chelsea, Reading and, of course, my Watford; I may never have technically been a ‘professional’ footballer, but please know I always tried to behave as any professional would and represent your clubs with pride, passion and respect and I always, always gave my all.
“To end my career here, at Watford, where it all began all those years ago feels like a perfect symmetry. Thank you for helping me love the game and for the endless support and love for me and my family. Watford is forever in my blood and in my heart.”
Ward concluded the statement with: “Football, you’ve been a blast.”
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