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Anita Asante: Aston Villa defender, who played for England, Arsenal and Chelsea, to retire at end of season | football-news

Aston Villa Women defender Anita Asante says she will continue to be an advocate for women’s football after announcing her retirement earlier on Tuesday.

The 36-year-old – who turns 37 on Wednesday – has had a career spanning over 19 years, with achievements including a quadruple-winning season with Arsenal in 2007, 71 caps for England and representing Team GB at the 2012 London Olympics.

However, Asante has decided now is the right time to hang up her boots and continue to impact the game in different ways off the pitch.

she told Sky SportsNews: ”It was a difficult decision to make and I’m enjoying my season with Villa at the moment. But every journey must come to an end and for me, I think it’s the right time to hang my boots up and give thanks to everyone who’s helped me along my journey.

”I’ve always been an advocate for widening that pool of talent and crossing many demographics. I feel like I was very fortunate to come into the game when I did.

“I want to make sure many more girls across the demographics are getting the same opportunities I did playing football and I really hope I can impact that on and off the pitch. Those are the long-term goals for me.

“I’m currently completing my UEFA B [coaching] badge at the moment, and I hope to continue that journey and explore it.

“I would like to be on the grass and hopefully have a direct impact on future generations of footballers coming through the ranks. Anything I can do where I can lend my voice to these issues as well, I will continue to be that voice of change .

“I have always said my dream was to coach my childhood club Arsenal. That would be the starting point to impact the game for the future generations there and then hopefully be the voice that can affect it in the boardroom and those arenas.

“That can keep on spurring the continued growth of the women’s game.”

Aston Villa travel to Arsenal on Sunday in the Women’s Super League, where Asante blossomed into the player she is today. She feels it will be ”a lovely kind of homecoming” as she returns to her old stomping ground.

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Asante was part of the Team GB squad at the London Olympics in 2012

”I’m immensely proud of my personal achievements… with the people I’ve played with over the years,” she added.

”But I think the one that stands out is obviously the quadruple with Arsenal. They were just a very special group of players and characters who helped me and impacted me in my career.”

Asante has been a regular for Villa this season, playing 21 times to help them to ninth place in the Women’s Super League.

Asante began her career at Arsenal and was part of the Gunners side that lifted the Premier League, Premier League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup to win a historic quadruple in 2007.

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Aston Villa and England midfielder Anita Asante has announced she will retire from football at the end of the season

The defender then joined Chelsea before moving to the US, where she played for Sky Blue FC, Chicago Red Stars and Washington Freedom.

Asante also spent five years in Sweden, where she won silverware with both Goteborg and Rosengard, before returning to Chelsea and then joining Villa in 2020.

At international level, Asante took part in two World Cups and three European Championships.

Hayes: My favorite human being and player to have coached

  Emma Hayes Head coach of Chelsea FC reacts during the UEFA Womens Champions League match at Juventus Stadium, Turin.  Picture credit should read: Jonathan Moscrop / Sportimage(Credit Image: © Jonathan Moscrop/CSM via ZUMA Wire) (Cal Sport Media via AP Images)
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Emma Hayes coached Anita Asante at both Arsenal and Chelsea

Chelsea Women’s head coach Emma Hayes further praised Asante upon her retirement announcement. Hayes first coached Asante at Arsenal, before they were reunited at Chelsea when she returned to the Blues from Rosengard in 2018.

she told Sky SportsNews: “I’ve coached for 25 years. She will remain one of my favorite human beings and players I’ve ever coached.

“When I read that she only had 77 caps – I thought it was a travesty. I think Anita was a special talent for her generation. She was thoughtful and thought-provoking and I’m sure she will have a great career in coaching and management.

“She’s got all the elements and I love her so much, she’s from an amazing family.

“We don’t have long enough to talk about her.”

Asante responded: ”It’s very overwhelming and emotional. Emma has had an unbelievable impact on me on and off the pitch.

”It is always lovely to hear such lovely messages coming from someone I have always respected. This is someone who has helped me become the player and person I have become in my career.”

Asante: Aston Villa will continue to inspire girls

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Anita Asante has previously used her voice to speak out about inclusion in women’s football and despite heading into retirement, the Aston Villa defender is motivated to continue having an influence on the game

Asante, who has championed women’s football through her work in the media and organizations like Show Racism the Red Card, Amnesty International and Goals for Girls, has vowed to continue to support the game after her retirement.

She told Villa’s official website: “The last two seasons with Villa has been a great experience, and to be part of supporting the next generation of players.

“It’s great to have a historic and massive club like Villa in the Midlands and it has a very ambitious future, and I know they will inspire many young girls to play football and enjoy the highs of the game I have been so fortunate to experience.

“I’m really excited about what the future holds, and I hope to continue to play a positive and impactful part in the growth of the women’s game on the other side of the lines, be it in the media and in club management.”

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