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Former England defender Anita Asante to retire after 19-year career

Anita Asante of Aston Villa in action during the Vitality Women's FA Cup Fourth Round match between Aston Villa Women v Chelsea Women at Banks's Stadium on January 29, 2022 in Walsall, England. (Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images)

English defender Anita Asante will retire from soccer at the end of this season, she announced Tuesday via Twitter.

“On the eve of my 37th birthday, it’s time to announce my retirement from football at the end of the season,” Asante wrote. “I want to thank my family, team-mates, managers, fans & all the clubs I have played for. To say it’s been a privilege is an understatement. It’s been a dream.”

The Aston Villa star will play out the remainder of the FA Women’s Super League season before stepping away from the sport at 37 years old.

Asante started her club career at Arsenal, helping lift the club to the Premier League, Premier League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup for a record quadruple in 2007.

In her illustrious career, Asante also played for Chelsea, as well as the U.S. clubs Sky Blue FC, Chicago Red Stars and Washington Freedom, and she also spent five years in Sweden.

For her country, Asante has made two World Cup appearances and participated in an Olympic Games, representing England 71 times in her tenure.

“I absolutely would say that my experiences in football and the people I’ve met along the way have empowered me to be more vocal with my opinions,” Asante told BBC Sport, reflecting on her soccer career. “I’m thankful for that. I needed to live that personal journey – finding myself being confident enough to come out with my sexuality. It’s given me strength every step of the way, even in the difficult points.”

After her playing career, Asante hopes to get involved on the sidelines and invest in the growth of the game. “I want to get into coaching and management. I want to support the next generation of players and share my experiences with them.”

Aston Villa will end their 2021-2022 WSL campaign on May 8, hosting Birmingham City at home.