Germany ace Prinz hangs up her boots
Three-time Women's World Player of the Year Birgit Prinz has announced her retirement from football at the age of 33 with immediate effect.
The prolific Germany striker broke many records in a distinguished 19-year career, becoming the first, and as yet only, European player to win 200 international caps and sitting at the top of the Women's World Cup all-time scoring charts with 14 goals.
The zenith of her career came at the 2003 World Cup in China, where her seven goals fired Germany to a first women's World Cup triumph. She was both the Golden Boot and Golden Ball winner at the tournament.
Prinz made her debut for the national team as a 16-year-old and went on to play in five Women's World Cups for Germany, adding another title in 2007 before playing a bit-part role in the recent finals.
"For me, the moment has come to end my active career as footballer after 25 years," Prinz said. "This is no easy decision for me, as playing football has always been a huge passion of mine. But it now feels like the right moment."
Untouchable as the icon of the women's game in Germany, Prinz spent almost her entire career in her hometown of Frankfurt, winning 21 trophies with FSV Frankfurt and 1. FFC Frankfurt, including a record three UEFA Women's Cups with the latter.
She netted a remarkable 128 goals in 214 games for Germany and was voted FIFA Women's World Player of the Year in 2003, 2004 and 2005.
German Football Association (DFB) president Theo Zwanziger said: "Of course I regret this decision. But I also respect it. She is a big and extraordinary personality in sport with incredible achievements for women's football in Germany."
Silvia Neid, the Germany coach who played alongside Prinz in her early national-team career, added: "Birgit Prinz has played at the highest level for many years and has done so much for women's football. She was significantly involved in all successes of the national team."
Frankfurt club manager Siegfried Dietrich said: "Even though ending her career after the World Cup has always been an option, we regret very much that Birgit will not conclude her career on the club stage. After over a decade together, with lots of great successes but some downs as well, the entire club of 1. FFC Frankfurt wants to say thank you to Birgit Prinz for the extraordinarily good team-work."