Former England striker Eni Aluko has announced her retirement from football.
The 32-year-old, who won 102 caps for the Lionesses, left Juventus in December after nearly 18 months with the Serie A champions and had been tipped to return to the Women’s Super League.
Posting on Twitter, before linking to a full letter on the Players Tribune, she wrote: “My dear friend football, it’s time to hang up my boots and retire as a professional footballer.
“Thankyou football for everything you’ve given and taught me. Thanks for the full circle moments & crazy unexpected journey.”
Aluko, who played for Birmingham, Charlton and Chelsea in England, as well as having a brief spell in North America, was part of the Great Britain team at the London 2012 Olympics.
In her letter, entitled ‘Dear Football’, she wrote: “When we met… I was just a girl from a council estate in Birmingham. I could never have imagined the crazy, unbelievable journey you would take me on.
“You have given me the dream of playing in the US, the pride of representing England, the thrill of winning titles with Chelsea, the adventure of playing for Juventus in Italy.
“Whenever I have faced obstacles, you have shattered them. Whenever I have had great expectations, you have exceeded them.”
The forward, who is also a trained lawyer, scored 33 goals for England, with her last international appearance coming in April 2016.
She subsequently made misconduct allegations against former boss Mark Sampson that resulted in scrutiny of his behaviour and the Football Association’s handling of the complaints.
That episode concluded in October 2017 when a third investigation found Sampson made racially discriminatory remarks to Aluko and fellow player Drew Spence in what were described as “ill-judged attempts at humour”.
After announcing her Juventus departure in November, 18 months into her two-year contract, she detailed how she had found life difficult in Italy.
Writing in her Guardian column at the time, she said: “Sometimes Turin feels a couple of decades behind in terms of its general openness to different kinds of people.
“I have grown tired of walking into stores and feeling as if the owner expects me to rob the place. There is only so many times you can arrive at Turin airport and have the sniffer dogs treat you like you are Pablo Escobar.”
Anti-discrimination organisation Kick It Out hailed Aluko’s achievements, tweeting: “Congratulations on a brilliant career, Eni. A role model for millions, on and off the pitch.”