Salisbury looking forward to break and a normal life

When Cheryl Salisbury walks off Parramatta Stadium on Saturday evening, having just finished her 151st appearance for the Westfield Matildas, she will have earned a decent rest.

When Cheryl Salisbury walks off Parramatta Stadium on Saturday evening, having just finished her 151st appearance for the Westfield Matildas, she will have earned a decent rest.

That-s what Salisbury is most looking forward to after the 34-year-old today announced her retirement from international football after almost 15 years at the top level of the women-s game in Australia.

Salisbury admitted the last 5-6 six years have been a struggle, with injuries finally catching up with her and making her decision to retire a fairly easy one.

“Enough is enough,” Salisbury said from the Westfield Matildas base in Parramatta, as they prepare for the two-game series against 12th ranked Italy.

“Its been a struggle keeping up the last few years, with the pace of the game and the body deteriorating at the same time.

“There comes a point when the mind is still willing, but the body is just not going to follow.”

While the Novocastrian says she will most likely stay involved in the game as some capacity, even not ruling out playing in the next season of the Westfield W-League, Salisbury is going to take a long break and concentrate on the normal things in life, like her growing career with sports apparel giant Nike.

“I think there will always some involvement there, as to what that involvement will be, I am not sure yet.

“For me, I really just want to have a bit of a break for a period of time and I don-t know how long that will be and just focus on my work with Nike; that-s a real priority for me.

“As for playing in the Westfield W-League, six months is a long time. As I said, I want to have a good break from playing football, because that is all I-ve known and done since I was seven years old.

“For me to keep playing, I need to keep my body at a certain level and do all the small things that say the younger players don-t have to do yet and that can be quite tough.”

The highlights have been many for our most capped player, either male or female, with several that spring to mind.

“Obviously getting through to the quarter finals and scoring the goal against Canada that got us through to the quarter final at the World Cup (2007); that-s probably the biggest thing that has ever happened in women-s football here (in Australia),” she said with a touch of pride.

“To be a part of that team and be the one that scored the goal that is probably the biggest thing.

“Also walking out at the Sydney Olympics in that first game; I-ve got goose bumps now and that was nearly nine years ago. I scored Australia-s first ever goal at an Olympic Games (by a women-s team) and there again is another moment that is going to be memorable.”

Salisbury admits the game has come a long way since her debut in 1994, on what she described as a backyard field somewhere in Brisbane.

“The progression of women-s football across the board has just been phenomenal. My first world cup in 1995 was over in Sweden and we really didn-t know what the rest of the world was like; there were other girls that played and we were quite shocked at that.

“15 years doesn-t seem like a long time sitting here, but when you really start to think and look back over those years, the game has progressed at a phenomenal rate.

“The men-s game has evolved over a hundred or so years, where we (women) have done that in a relatively small amount of time and for the girls to have professional leagues around the world that was a dream that I never thought would happen when I first started playing.”

For Salisbury, who played at four World Cups, two Olympic Games and in two FIFA World XI matches, she is confident the women-s game in Australia is moving in the right direction.

“We are heading in the right direction with the Westfield W-League; obviously getting that on board and having the game shown on TV is a huge priority.

“I think the W-League was a huge success in terms of the amount of numbers we got through the gate; the amount of people that watched on TV; the Women-s World Cup is another one with great numbers of TV audience that were watching the game.

“To get 3,000 to both (W-League) semi finals and then nearly 5,000 to the final and that-s on minimum media exposure, is tremendous for the game.”

And finally does she have any advice for young girls who are wanting to play the game.

“Just have fun,” which was obviously said with a huge smile on her face.