- Three Jordanian stars hang up their boots
- Al Nabr is most-capped Jordanian player and chair of JFA’s Women’s Committee
- Trio send message to motivate future generations to reach World Cup
“This is the most difficult moment in our lives. We never imagined we’d be here, but to end our career on the same day is some consolation. Bringing the curtain down on your playing days is truly difficult.”
This was how three members of the Jordanian national team, captain Stephanie Al Naber, and her team-mates Yasmeen Khair and Shorouq Shazly, summed up their feelings on officially retiring. The trio decided to hang up their boots after illustrious careers going back to 2005, when the Jordanian women’s national team was created.
Whether for their country or domestically with their clubs, the players have been shining examples for aspiring and current women footballers. They represented Jordan at every tournament the team played in, contributed to breaking down social barriers, and helped enhance the standing of women’s football. They also played an important part in the growth and professionalisation of the women’s game in Jordan, where many top clubs now have women’s teams.
Most difficult decision
Al Naber, Jordan’s most-capped female player with 128 appearances, said: “I never felt afraid going up against an opponent but, to be honest, I’ve always feared this difficult moment. Football has been a big part of my daily life for the past 15 years and, now that I’ve made this difficult decision, I’ll certainly miss lots of things.”
“I lived and breathed football and had happy and sad days because of it. I have lots of memories that I’m proud of. If I could do it all again, I wouldn’t change a thing. I loved all the challenges and problems I faced. My most difficult moment was my last match against Vietnam in 2019 in the Tokyo Olympics qualifiers. At the final whistle I knew it would be my last match. I owe everything I have to football.”
With tears running down her face, Khair spoke of her footballing memories, saying: “I had more difficulties than other players when I started out, but I’m not someone who gives up. I worked very hard until I mastered the game and harnessed my physical abilities to improve my performances and help my team.”
Indeed, those same physical abilities helped make Khair a star gymnast at a young age. She won nine medals, including two golds, in two editions of the Arab Games, earning the sobriquet “the butterfly” for her exceptional precision and agility.
Message to all girls
The retired trio sent a special message to all those girls currently playing the game or considering a career in football. For her part, Shazly said: “I don’t remember anything in my childhood other than football. It gave me a lot of joy and forged my personality, and I hope that young girls believe that football can change the course of their lives. They need to persevere and work hard to reach to the top.”
Al Naber, who joined the Jordanian Football Association’s board and currently chairs the Women’s Football Committee, said: “I had many dreams, most of which we achieved, but the dream of qualifying for the FIFA Women’s World Cup remains my biggest goal. I will strive with the rest of the team to try to make it happen and provide all the support we can to the current generation. However, I call on them to focus on training, work on their skills and gain the experience necessary to compete with top teams. No matter how challenging my dream may be to fulfil, Jordanian women can achieve it with determination and persistence.”
With the three stars starting their careers in 2005, they got to share the many wonderful moments the national team enjoyed in the intervening years. “The most beautiful goal for me was that free kick I scored against Uzbekistan that secured us a spot in the 2014 AFC Women’s Cup for the first time. It was a truly historic day.” Al Naber recalled.
Kahir echoed her team-mate’s sentiments, acknowledging that playing in the Asian Cup twice and making the Asian Games on three occasions were her most significant achievements, enabling Jordan to go up against Asian heavyweights like Japan, China PR and Korea Republic.
For her part, Shazly chose as her best moment the Arab Cup final in which Jordan beat Egypt to lift the title. “It was a beautiful game where we performed well both defensively and offensively. We wanted to prove ourselves against strong opponents. I remember this title boosting our morale for a long time and raising our spirits for the tournaments that followed,” she concluded.