Wales Women’s Helen Ward retires from international football

Helen Ward (Wales) retires
Photo: Kara Thomas/SPP

Striker Helen Ward, Wales’ all-time leading goalscorer with 44 goals in 105 games has announced her retirement from the international game.

Ward will turn 37 next month and has been a huge source of inspiration to the players who have emerged through the ranks and into the senior squad since she made her debut against Luxembourg back in September 2008. It could have been a very different story for Ward as she represented England at U23 level prior to making the switch to Wales, but over the course of the last 15 years she has played an important role in the progress and development that has moved the team to within touching distance of an appearance at the finals of a major tournament.

Ward will be retiring from the national team with immediate effect, and will be retiring from club football, where she plays for Watford, at the end of this season.

In a statement, Helen Ward said:

Luxembourg, Tuesday 30th September 2008. The day my life changed. It was the first time I’d pulled on the red shirt and proudly wore the Dragon on my chest. I stood for THE anthem and suddenly, it became more than just a game. Never did I imagine that that honour would be bestowed upon me more than a hundred times over. 

I was part of a family. As an outsider from across the bridge, I was welcomed into the most special group of people and I never looked back. Those girls, that team and Cymru became everything to me. 

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 my teammates 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 and I couldn’t have done it without my girls. Some of you have been there from day one and plenty more have joined along the way. They’re a special bunch and they’re my family. 

Diolch to every player, staff member and fan who have trusted me, a muggle, to represent you and wear your shirt. The love I have for you is endless. 

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