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Matildas star Sally Shipard calls time on her magnificent football career

Sally Shipard with Ellie Brush during  her Canberra United career.

Sally Shipard with Ellie Brush during her Canberra United career. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

She leaves a legacy as one of Australia's greatest female footballers, but even Sally Shipard admits she's a "pretty complicated soul".

An Olympian at age 16, retired with an eating disorder at 21, a successful comeback to feature in two World Cups and a W-League championship, then retired again - this time for good - at 26.

Shipard relives the rollercoaster ride, telling her story from Washington DC, in the US, where she is on a "six-month sabbatical" supporting her partner and former Canberra United teammate, Lori Lindsey. Lindsey, 34, is playing with the Washington Spirit in the US Women's National Soccer League.

Sally Shipard and her partner Lori Lindsey.

Sally Shipard and her partner Lori Lindsey. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

"She was the first teammate I have ever fallen for,'' Shipard said.

"I have this thing with my football where I want it to remain professional and I don't want to go over that line, but with Lori I had no choice.

"It was going against my moral fibre in a sense with that professional barrier, but in the team situation it was quite easy just to be us and have respect for the team and from the team. It was pretty smooth sailing."

Sally Shipard was dogged by injuries throughout her career.

Sally Shipard was dogged by injuries throughout her career.

The latter part of Shipard's career hasn't been so smooth.

She retires with 62 appearances for the national team, including two World Cups, being part of the first Australian team to win an Asian Cup in 2011 and the Julie Dolan Medal as the best player in the W-League in the 2011-12 season to lead Canberra United to its maiden championship.

But a degenerative knee injury which limited her to a handful of games in the past two seasons forced Shipard's decision.

Shipard began her Matildas career at just 16.

Shipard began her Matildas career at just 16. Photo: Vince Caligiuri

After a couple of aborted attempts, Shipard made her much-awaited comeback in a match with the Newcastle Jets in February.

She scored a rare goal within the opening 15 minutes.

"I was advised [to retire] by our national team doctor about a year-and-a-half ago based on the fact my knees were degenerative,'' Shipard said.

''I feel like my knees could probably handle a hugely modified program, but it's too much of a mental battle for me.

''Some people are capable of it, but I knew it was my time to step away.''

Shipard is the perfect case case study for the opportunities football can provide.

At 15, she moved from her home in Wagga Wagga to study at The Hill Sports High in Sydney.

One of her teachers was Alen Stajcic, the now interim coach of the Australian Matildas.

"I was walking down the stairs as he was walking up, and he stopped me in my stride, and says, 'you're going to the Olympics','' Shipard said.

"It was such a huge achievement, but one I probably didn't expect to happen so quickly.

"Beyond that it's been a bit of a rollercoaster.''

In 2011, she bravely went public with her battle with bulimia in the hope her story would inspire others to get help after fighting her inner demons during her career.

Her year away from the sport, when she was 21, provided her the time to figure out if football was the influence for her sexuality.

"It turns out it was the way I felt,'' she said.

"When I returned home I was able to share that with my family.

''My family are amazing with anything I've thrown at them in my life.''

Retiring wasn't a decision Shipard made lightly.

Messages from current Matildas players Clare Polkinghorne and Elise Kellond-Knight and memories of that amazing Asian Cup triumph make Shipard wish for one last hurrah.

But ultimately, she is satisfied she has squeezed everything possible out of her power-packed career.

Shipard wants to remain involved in football and is passionate about her Chasing Leather project, which aims to pass on the lessons she has learnt into everyday life.

"I would love to run Chasing Leather clinics in Canberra and head back down to Wagga and give back to the community that helped me grow and prosper,'' Shipard said.

"I'm really excited about this fear of not feeling passionate about something beyond football and not feeling that natural high.

"I  know I can achieve it through what I can see Chasing Leather becoming.''

"Not that I'm the first person to have degenerative knees

"I went to Queensland and rehabbed to return for the W-League season as my last go at it to get my knees in shape.

"I got a few minutes in the W-League and that was about it.

"My knees swelled and didn't enjoy the load so I guess it was almost a decision made for me, but I guess I'm also I'm in a space willing to accept it.

"It would have been nice if it happened in a couple of years time.

"I get a little bit sad thinking about it.

"I still feel like I'm dreaming, too. I'm hearing from (Clare Polkinghorne), who is in camp (with the Matildas) at the moment and she's talking about the Asian Cup and the memories that we've had and Elloise Kellond-Knight about how we want to win the Cup again. It would have been wonderful to have been part of that squad again - to be part of a World Cup and Olympic Games. To be honest, if I wanted that, then 

Hyundai A-League 2015-16

Round 1
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
WSW 1vs BRI 3 Stats
Fri, 09 OctTimes shown AEDT
ADE 0vs VIC 0 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
CCM 3vs PER 2 Stats
SYD 1vs MCY 1 Stats
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
WEL 1vs NEW 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Fri, 16 OctTimes shown AEDT
ADE 1vs WSW 1 Stats
Sat, 17 OctTimes shown AEDT
NEW 0vs SYD 1 Stats
VIC 3vs MCY 2 Stats
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
BRI 2vs CCM 1 Stats
PER 1vs WEL 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Fri, 23 OctTimes shown AEDT
NEW 1vs VIC 0 Stats
Sat, 24 OctTimes shown AEDT
WEL 3vs BRI 2 Stats
SYD 1vs WSW 0 Stats
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
MCY 3vs CCM 1 Stats
PER 3vs ADE 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Fri, 30 OctTimes shown AEDT
MCY 2vs NEW 3 Stats
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
CCM 1vs SYD 3 Stats
BRI 3vs ADE 0 Stats
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSW 1vs PER 0 Stats
Mon, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
VIC 3vs WEL 0 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Thu, 05 NovTimes shown AEDT
ADE 2vs MCY 4 Stats
Fri, 06 NovTimes shown AEDT
SYD 0vs BRI 0 Stats
Sat, 07 NovTimes shown AEDT
NEW 1vs WSW 2 Stats
Sun, 08 NovTimes shown AEDT
CCM 1vs WEL 1 Stats
Wed, 16 DecTimes shown AEDT
PER 1vs VIC 0 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Fri, 13 NovTimes shown AEDT
WEL 4vs ADE 2 Stats
MCY 0vs WSW 3 Stats
Sat, 14 NovTimes shown AEDT
NEW 1vs CCM 1 Stats
SYD 2vs VIC 4 Stats
Sun, 15 NovTimes shown AEDT
BRI 1vs PER 0 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Thu, 19 NovTimes shown AEDT
VIC 2vs CCM 1 Stats
Fri, 20 NovTimes shown AEDT
BRI 1vs MCY 1 Stats
Sat, 21 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSW 2vs WEL 1 Stats
PER 0vs SYD 0 Stats
Sun, 22 NovTimes shown AEDT
ADE 0vs NEW 0 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Thu, 26 NovTimes shown AEDT
SYD 0vs WEL 0 Stats
Fri, 27 NovTimes shown AEDT
MCY 5vs PER 1 Stats
Sat, 28 NovTimes shown AEDT
NEW 1vs BRI 1 Stats
VIC 2vs ADE 1 Stats
Sun, 29 NovTimes shown AEDT
CCM 0vs WSW 2 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Thu, 03 DecTimes shown AEDT
CCM 1vs MCY 5 Stats
Fri, 04 DecTimes shown AEDT
SYD 1vs NEW 0 Stats
Sat, 05 DecTimes shown AEDT
WEL 2vs VIC 0 Stats
WSW 2vs BRI 1 Stats
Sun, 06 DecTimes shown AEDT
ADE 1vs PER 0 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 10
Fri, 11 DecTimes shown AEDT
ADE 2vs SYD 1 Stats
Sat, 12 DecTimes shown AEDT
BRI 2vs WEL 1 Stats
WSW 2vs VIC 0 Stats
PER 2vs CCM 1 Stats
Sun, 13 DecTimes shown AEDT
NEW 0vs MCY 4 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 11
Fri, 18 DecTimes shown AEDT
NEW 0vs ADE 0 Stats
Sat, 19 DecTimes shown AEDT
WEL 1vs SYD 1 Stats
MCY 2vs VIC 1 Stats
PER 2vs WSW 2 Stats
Sun, 20 DecTimes shown AEDT
CCM 0vs BRI 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 12
Thu, 24 DecTimes shown AEDT
WSW 2vs NEW 0 Stats
Sat, 26 DecTimes shown AEDT
ADE 3vs WEL 0 Stats
SYD 4vs CCM 1 Stats
Sun, 27 DecTimes shown AEDT
VIC 1vs PER 1 Stats
BRI 3vs MCY 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 13
Thu, 31 DecTimes shown AEDT
CCM 3vs WEL 1 Stats
Fri, 01 JanTimes shown AEDT
WSW 0vs ADE 0 Stats
Sat, 02 JanTimes shown AEDT
BRI 2vs PER 1 Stats
MCY 2vs SYD 2 Stats
Sun, 03 JanTimes shown AEDT
NEW 0vs VIC 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 14
Fri, 08 JanTimes shown AEDT
CCM 3vs VIC 3 Stats
Sat, 09 JanTimes shown AEDT
SYD 2vs NEW 0 Stats
MCY 3vs WSW 2 Stats
PER 1vs ADE 3 Stats
Sun, 10 JanTimes shown AEDT
WEL 0vs BRI 0 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 15
Fri, 15 JanTimes shown AEDT
VIC 4vs BRI 0 Stats
Sat, 16 JanTimes shown AEDT
ADE 3vs CCM 1 Stats
WSW 1vs SYD 2 Stats
PER 2vs MCY 2 Stats
Sun, 17 JanTimes shown AEDT
NEW 3vs WEL 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 16
Fri, 22 JanTimes shown AEDT
BRI 1vs ADE 4 Stats
Sat, 23 JanTimes shown AEDT
CCM 1vs WSW 2 Stats
Sun, 24 JanTimes shown AEDT
NEW 1vs PER 6 Stats
Mon, 25 JanTimes shown AEDT
MCY 3vs WEL 1 Stats
Tue, 26 JanTimes shown AEDT
VIC 1vs SYD 0 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 17
Fri, 29 JanTimes shown AEDT
WSW 4vs MCY 3 Stats
Sat, 30 JanTimes shown AEDT
WEL 1vs CCM 3 Stats
SYD 1vs BRI 3 Stats
PER 3vs VIC 2 Stats
Sun, 31 JanTimes shown AEDT
ADE 1vs NEW 0 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 18
Fri, 05 FebTimes shown AEDT
ADE 2vs SYD 2 Stats
Sat, 06 FebTimes shown AEDT
BRI 4vs CCM 0 Stats
VIC 1vs WSW 1 Stats
Sun, 07 FebTimes shown AEDT
WEL 0vs PER 1 Stats
NEW 2vs MCY 1 Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 19
Fri, 12 FebTimes shown AEDT
BRI 2vs NEW 2 Stats
Sat, 13 FebTimes shown AEDT
SYD 1vs PER 2 Stats
MCY 2vs VIC 2 Stats
Sun, 14 FebTimes shown AEDT
WSW vs WEL 17:00Pirtek Stadium
CCM vs ADE 19:00Central Coast Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 20
Fri, 19 FebTimes shown AEDT
VIC vs ADE 19:40AAMI Park
Sat, 20 FebTimes shown AEDT
NEW vs WEL 17:15Hunter Stadium
SYD vs WSW 19:30Allianz Stadium
PER vs BRI 21:40nib Stadium
Sun, 21 FebTimes shown AEDT
MCY vs CCM 17:00AAMI Park
View All Fixtures
Round 21
Fri, 26 FebTimes shown AEDT
WEL vs MCY 17:30Westpac Stadium
WSW vs PER 19:40Pirtek Stadium
Sat, 27 FebTimes shown AEDT
ADE vs BRI 17:15Coopers Stadium
VIC vs SYD 19:30AAMI Park
Sun, 28 FebTimes shown AEDT
CCM vs NEW 17:00Central Coast Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 22
Fri, 04 MarTimes shown AEDT
BRI vs WSW 20:00Suncorp Stadium
Sat, 05 MarTimes shown AEDT
WEL vs ADE 17:15Westpac Stadium
MCY vs SYD 19:30AAMI Park
Sun, 06 MarTimes shown AEDT
CCM vs VIC 17:00Central Coast Stadium
Mon, 07 MarTimes shown AEDT
PER vs NEW 20:00nib Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 23
Fri, 11 MarTimes shown AEDT
ADE vs MCY 19:40Coopers Stadium
Sat, 12 MarTimes shown AEDT
SYD vs WEL 17:15Allianz Stadium
BRI vs VIC 19:30Suncorp Stadium
PER vs CCM 21:40nib Stadium
Sun, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
NEW vs WSW 17:00Hunter Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 24
Fri, 18 MarTimes shown AEDT
MCY vs BRI 19:40AAMI Park
Sat, 19 MarTimes shown AEDT
CCM vs SYD 17:15Central Coast Stadium
WSW vs ADE 19:30Pirtek Stadium
Sun, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
WEL vs PER 15:00Westpac Stadium
VIC vs NEW 17:00AAMI Park
View All Fixtures
Round 25
Fri, 25 MarTimes shown AEDT
VIC vs WSW 19:40AAMI Park
Sat, 26 MarTimes shown AEDT
NEW vs PER 17:15Hunter Stadium
BRI vs SYD 19:30Suncorp Stadium
Sun, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
ADE vs CCM 17:00Coopers Stadium
Mon, 28 MarTimes shown AEDT
MCY vs WEL 19:30AAMI Park
View All Fixtures
Round 26
Fri, 01 AprTimes shown AEDT
WSW vs CCM 19:40Pirtek Stadium
Sat, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
WEL vs VIC 17:15Westpac Stadium
SYD vs ADE 19:30Allianz Stadium
Sun, 03 AprTimes shown AEST
BRI vs NEW 17:00Suncorp Stadium
PER vs MCY 19:00nib Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 27
Fri, 08 AprTimes shown AEST
MCY vs ADE 19:40AAMI Park
Sat, 09 AprTimes shown AEST
CCM vs NEW 17:15Central Coast Stadium
VIC vs BRI 19:30AAMI Park
Sun, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
WEL vs WSW 15:00Westpac Stadium
SYD vs PER 17:00Allianz Stadium
View All Fixtures
Hyundai A-League 2015-16
Overall standings
Team P W L +/- Pts
Brisbane Roar FC 19 10 4 9 35
Western Sydney Wanderers FC 18 10 4 10 34
Melbourne City FC 19 8 6 11 29
Melbourne Victory 19 8 6 6 29
Sydney FC 19 7 5 4 28
Adelaide United 18 7 5 3 27
Perth Glory 19 7 8 0 25
Newcastle Jets 19 5 9 -12 20
View all
 

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