“Football is my passion. It has always been part of my life and will continue to be,” leading German striker Celia Sasic said at the start of her announcement to her Facebook fans on Thursday. “Nevertheless, I’ve decided to begin a new chapter in my life and call time on my professional football career,” she continued. “I’m now looking forward to a range of new things in my life. I want to finish my studies, sort out my career path, start a family and much more.”
Sasic's decision to bid farewell to the sport will have been made all the more difficult given that the Bonn native has only recently cemented her place among the best players of her generation. Just two weeks ago, the forward, who has a French mother and Cameroonian father, was awarded the adidas Golden Boot for finishing the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015™ as leading goalscorer.
This summer’s tournament in North America otherwise proved to be an emotional rollercoaster for Sasic, who missed a penalty in Germany’s semi-final against USA when the score was still 0-0. “I feel rubbish”, she said after the 2-0 defeat. “I would have liked things to have worked out differently.” Silvia Neid’s side also lost the Match for Third Place against England to finish their campaign in a disappointing fourth place.
An end to fun times
As her World Cup strike partner Anja Mittag told FIFA.com after Germany’s opening match against Côte d’Ivoire in which both players netted hat-tricks, Sasic is extremely strong in the air and “a proper penalty-box predator”. “You can always chat with her,” the Paris Saint-Germain forward added. “She’s extremely intelligent, so you can talk about all kinds of interesting topics – it’s fun.”
That fun has now come to an end, as head coach Silvia Neid regretfully noted. “It’s a real loss for us because Celia is a major character who leaves big boots to fill,” she said in reaction to Sasic’s announcement. “I regret Celia’s decision, but she also understands that football isn’t everything in life and there always comes a moment when you have to focus on other priorities. She was always a role model both on and off the pitch. We won important games because of her; she took on responsibility and fulfilled her role as a leader perfectly.”
The striker began her international career in January 2005, just a few months before Neid took charge of the side and a year after the pair had joined forces to win the FIFA U-19 Women’s World Cup in Thailand. Since then, the 27-year-old has amassed 111 caps for her country, scoring 63 goals along the way. In addition to her triumphs at the 2009 and 2013 European Championships, Sasic was also part of Germany’s bronze medal-winning side at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Paying tribute to her former team-mate’s achievements, Melanie Behringer posted on Twitter: “We’ve worn the eagle on our shirts together for more than ten years. Thanks for that Celi and all the very best for the future.”
One last shot at a title
Sasic was prolific in front of goal for club and country alike, having ended the last two Bundesliga seasons as leading goalscorer. She celebrated her greatest success in May this year, winning the UEFA Women’s Champions League with 1. FFC Frankfurt and topping the goalscorers’ list in Europe’s most prestigious club competition. Prior to joining Frankfurt she spent nine years with Bad Neuenahr.
“It’s a remarkable decision by a remarkable woman,” said Frankfurt coach Siegfried Dietrich. “It takes an incredible amount of courage to step away from a situation where you’re the centre of attention and at the peak of your powers as a professional footballer. She could still have earned a fair amount of money in her career.”
Such considerations are no longer a priority for coach Milan Sasic’s daughter-in-law, whose maiden name was Okoyino da Mbabi before she married husband Marko in August 2013.
While there is no doubt the German star will be sorely missed by the footballing world both on and off the pitch, she still has a shot at one more title this summer despite hanging up her boots. The 27-year-old is one of 12 players – including five from Germany – shortlisted for the UEFA Best Women’s Player in Europe award. The winner will be crowned at the end of August, and a win for Sasic would be a fitting end to a remarkable career.