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South African football legend Janine van Wyk hangs up her boots

South African female football legend Janine van Wyk has finally retired from an international career. At 36, she became the most-capped player in African football history with 185 appearances.

Van Wyk played her last match for her country on December 4 in Pretoria’s Lucas Moripe Stadium, where the team won 2-0 against Burkina Faso. The team secured qualification to the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations 2024.

Her record, as said in sportsbet-io, surpasses the previous record held by Egypt men’s team legend Ahmed Hassan. Hassan’s long-standing record includes 184 international appearances.

Van Wyk has made her intention to retire from international football known since October of last year. However, she was given the chance to win the two caps required to break Hassan’s historic record.

After just 8 minutes of play, Van Wyk exited the Atteridgeville pitch as a symbol of her retirement. The audience gave her a standing ovation as she hugged her Banyana Banyana teammates.

“I am absolutely over the moon right now. I am excited. Bit of mixed emotions, you know, leaving the game; it’s not really easy leaving something that you love, and you have been doing for your whole life, and now it’s just transitioning into the next chapter,” the legend said after the final whistle.

“It’s an incredible journey that I had, and this has just been the cherry on top of the cake for me and a great fulfilment of a lengthy career,” Van Wyk added.

Vera Pauw, Van Wyk’s most influential mentor, celebrated her achievement on social media, saying, “Congratulations @Janinevanwyk5! The very last game of your career becoming the record holder of Africa; amazing, thrilling and so well deserved! Huge respect for @descaptain to make this milestone happen!”

FIFA Women’s World Cup X account also paid tribute to Van Wyk, describing her as a legend of the women’s game. “Iconic South Africa’s Janine van Wyk hangs up her boots, retiring a legend of the women’s game.” they stated.

Highlights of life

Van Wyk departs the game as a legend and an icon for women’s football in Africa. Janine founded JVW FC in 2013, where she currently plays and has held the position of player-coach in the past. Her club fostered a schoolgirls league that hosted 160 teams. The team involved 3,200 girls in active involvement at the school level. They were engaged in supporting and encouraging schoolgirls who wanted to play football.

Van Wyk started her career at the club level with Moroka Swallows. She went on to Palace Super Falcons, where she was the South African league champion three times in a row. Van Wyk then joined Houston Dash in 2017, making history as the first South African player in the NWSL. She also played for Fortuna Hjørring and Glasgow City.

Leading her country to the first Women’s World Cup in 2019 is among her greatest highlights. Representing South Africa twice in the Olympic Games (in London 2012 and Rio 2016) also included in her achievements.

WIth her dedication and resilience, Janine van Wyk becomes the inspiration for young athletes around the world, as she said on her last match, “to achieve every single dream that you have planned out for yourself from a young age, and just reaching this last one is a great fulfilment.”

Janine van Wyk talked about her plans to enjoy family time after years of a career in sports. She also hinted that there is a possibility that she would be involved in the field of coaching and said that she is excited about the new chapter of her next journey.