Leanne Ross captained Glasgow City to a 14th consecutive Scottish league titleScotland’s most decorated player, Leanne Ross, has retired as she “could not face another pre-season so soon” after the last, Covid-hit campaign.
But the 40-year-old will remain with national champions Glasgow City, becoming assistant coach.
Ross, who earned 133 Scotland caps, played in every campaign in City’s run of 14 league titles in a row.
“We’ve been through such a tough time with Covid – that was the final nail,” the midfielder told BBC Scotland.
“I was training on my own for a lot of that time and just the prospect of having a couple of weeks off after the end of last season and then coming in and doing another pre-season, that was it for me.”
Canada beat Sweden on penalties to win goldRoss, who helped City win the first of those titles in her debut season and also went on to earn six Scottish Women’s Premier League Cup and seven Scottish Cup winners medals, admits it was “such a tough decision” to end her playing career.
“I’m 40 now and obviously I’ve had a good run at it and I’ve got to stop some time,” she said.
Ross suggested that head coach Scott Booth’s switch to Birmingham City this summer also proved timely.
“The club were keen to keep me involved in some aspect of the game, so the situation with Scott leaving and a new coaching staff coming in, it was an ideal opportunity to make that jump for me,” he said.
City faced increased competition last season with Celtic and Rangers both launching full-time professional squads and it took the holders until the final day of the season to shake off the challenge of their two Glasgow rivals.
“It’s more and more difficult every year to win the title because other teams are progressing and improving, but the players are still looking fit and looking hungry,” Ross suggested.
City remain the only Scottish side to have reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League and Ross captained the side on both occasions.
“Obviously the most recent title, a 14th time in a row, was really special, but other than that, it would be the big Champions League games and getting through to the quarter-finals twice – that’s kind of unbeatable as a player,” she said of her career highlights.
City chief executive and former team-mate Laura Montgomery described it as “a tremendous career that, to be honest, will never be matched”.
“She is a leader, a winner, an icon of our game and one of a very small handful of players who have changed the landscape of the women’s game for all the young girls starting out in the game today,” she added.