Germany striker Birgit Prinz, the only European of either gender to win 200 international caps, has retired from football with immediate effect.
Prinz, 33, finished her international career last month by watching Germany lose their FIFA Women's World Cup quarter-final against Japan from the bench. She had the option to continue playing for UEFA Women's Champions League contenders 1. FFC Frankfurt but the trained physical therapist has opted to bow out.
"For me, the moment has come to end my active career as footballer after 25 years," Prinz said. "This is no easy decision for me, as playing football has always been a huge passion of mine. But it now feels like the right moment."
The defining face of women's football in Germany, Prinz made her senior breakthrough at home-town club FSV Frankfurt, winning two German titles. In 1998 she switched to rivals 1. FFC and in the 13 years since aided them to seven Frauen-Bundesliga crowns and a record three UEFA Women's Cups. She also spent part of 2002 at Carolina Courage in the United States, helping them to the championship.
Voted FIFA Women's World Player of the Year in 2003, 2004 and 2005, Prinz made 214 senior appearances for Germany between 1994 and 2011, scoring 128 goals. On her debut aged 16 she scored a late winner against Canada and was a crucial part of the World Cup triumphs in 2003 and 2007 and the UEFA Women's EURO titles of 1995, 1997, 2001, 2005 and 2009, as well as earning three Olympic bronze medals. The joint all-time leading scorer in both World Cup and Olympic tournaments, her last appearance was in the 1-0 defeat of Nigeria in the group stage in Germany.
German Football Association (DFB) president Theo Zwanziger said: "Of course I regret this decision. But I also respect it. She is a big and extraordinary personality in sport with incredible achievements for women's football in Germany."
Silvia Neid, the Germany coach who played alongside Prinz in her early national-team career, added: "Birgit Prinz has played at the highest level for many years and has done so much for women's football. She was significantly involved in all successes of the national team."
Frankfurt club manager Siegfried Dietrich said: "Even though ending her career after the World Cup has always been an option, we regret very much that Birgit will not conclude her career on the club stage. After over a decade together, with lots of great successes but some downs as well, the entire club of 1. FFC Frankfurt wants to say thank you to Birgit Prinz for the extraordinarily good team-work."
Frankfurt will enter the UEFA Women's Champions League in the round of 32, and will discover their opponents on 23 August. Germany begin UEFA Women's EURO 2013 qualfiying on 17 September at home to Switzerland.
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