Collette McCallum, one of Australia’s greatest female players, bowed out of football last night in a fitting 1-1 draw against Scotland – the nation of her birth – in Falkirk.
Football West News and Football Federation Australia
After an emotional week, McCallum came off the bench late in the game in her final match after serving the Westfield Matildas for a decade.
The Perth Glory Women midfielder, who calls WA home, decided to hang up her boots after a long struggle against knee problems.
Her decision meant she will not line-up in a third successive FIFA Women’s World Cup with the Matildas set to take part in the June tournament in Canada.
“It’s been incredible,” McCallum said after her cameo appearance in the match against Scotland.
“Even though it was only five minutes (on the pitch), it’s nice to get on. I’m lucky that my knees were fine.”
The Scotland players gave McCallum a signed team shirt as a gesture of their appreciation of one of Australia’s greatest players.
“It’s overwhelming – the amount of messages and texts I’ve got today is unbelievable. And the fact the Scottish girls got me this (shirt) signed… I’ve been so emotional today.”
The Westfield Matildas struck first through defender Laura Alleway after 26 minutes but Jane Ross equalised for the hosts just before the hour mark.
In stoppage time, there was one last trademark McCallum cross that the Scotland defence managed to keep out and the final whistle brought down the curtain on a magnificent career.
McCallum’s Perth Glory Women teammates Alanna Kennedy, Samantha Kerr and Caitlin Foord featured in the match, while Kate Gill and Mackenzie Arnold were unused substitutes.
Coach Alen Stajcic paid a final tribute to McCallum.
“Collette is a brilliant person on and off the field and in my opinion one of the top few Matildas of all time,” Stajcic said.
“She is a tremendous footballer, so we’re all extremely happy for her and proud of her career and we wish her all the best for the future.”
McCallum made 81 ‘A’ appearances for Australia and scored 11 goals in an international career spanning a decade.
The wear and tear on her knee prevented her from making more appearances.
“It has been a great honour and privilege to represent my country for the last 10 years,” McCallum said before her final game.
“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.”
McCallum was the 132nd player capped for the Westfield Matildas. Notable highlights 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 two seasons ago even though she played just five matches because of a knee injury. She was also vital in helping the Westfield W-League outfit finish top of the table and reach the Grand Final last season.