Feature: "One Last Dance" by Australian football legend Lydia Williams-Xinhua

Feature: "One Last Dance" by Australian football legend Lydia Williams

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-06-06 17:09:00

SYDNEY, June 6 (Xinhua) -- In the realm of professional football, a number is as crucial to a player's identity as their signature. Australia's longest-serving women's football goalkeeper, Lydia Williams, has decided to pass on her iconic No. 1 jersey to fellow teammate Mackenzie Arnold before the 36-year-old veteran calls it a career after the Paris Olympics.

On Wednesday, Australia's Women's National Football Team, nicknamed "the Matildas," posted a heartwarming video capturing the moment when Williams handed the purple-colored jersey to the teary-eyed Arnold.

"I remember just watching you take it and become your own. I knew from that moment this is what I eventually wanted to wear. We've gone through a lot and I know I probably couldn't have kept going and got to this place without you," Arnold said sobbing.

As per the newly announced roster, Williams did not secure a spot in the 18-strong squad for the Paris Olympics. Instead, she will serve as one of the four reserves traveling to France with the team.

Given that both Arnold and Teagan Micah are in excellent form, it seems highly unlikely for Williams to compete on the pitch again in late July.

Meanwhile, the friendly against China on Monday could mark the goalkeeper's swan song for the Australian national team, not only on home soil but also as the closing chapter of her international football career.

After playing nearly 19 years and featuring in more than 100 matches for the Matildas, Williams announced in May that she would retire after the upcoming Paris Olympics.

"One Last Dance" was the teaser she posted on social media prior to Monday's farewell game before a sold-out crowd of 76,798, the biggest-ever record for a Matildas match on home soil.

"You don't get much time as an athlete to have hindsight. You have to move on from tournament to tournament, from club season to club season. Over the last few months, I've been able to have that recollection and reflection on my career. It's definitely going to be really emotional. But I've always been for the team and the girls. I'm just really excited to share one more final moment with them on the pitch," Williams said at a pre-match conference.

An hour before the match kicked off, all three Aussie goalkeepers - Williams, Arnold, and Jada Whyman - showed up at the center of Accor Stadium to warm up, donning customized training T-shirts for the match with "THANK YOU LYDS" printed on the front.

Born in 1988, Williams made her Matildas debut in a friendly against South Korea in 2005. She represented Australia in five FIFA Women's World Cups, six AFC Women's Asian Cups, and two Summer Olympics.

At home, she powered Canberra United to their first A-League Women's championship. Abroad, she gained experience playing for prestigious international clubs such as Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain.