FIFA Women's World Cup™-winning Japanese goalkeeper Ayumi Kaihori has announced her retirement from the game at the age of 29, saying she is not able to perform to the standards she has set herself throughout her career.
The now former Nadeshiko stopper featured in two Women's World Cup finals, lifting the trophy in 2011 after saving two spot kicks in a dramatic penalty shootout, before succumbing to the Carli Lloyd-led USA at Canada 2015.
“I am not able to perform physically as well as I used to, and have become unable to beat my biggest rival in myself on a daily basis,” Kaihori told The Japan Times. "Given that I can’t bring myself up to a condition I’d be satisfied with, it is against my principle to continue as a player."
Speaking ahead of the 2015 finals, Kaihori said her favourite memory of 2011 was thanking the fans for their support after the disastrous tsunami earlier that year.
"That year was a difficult year for the country," she said. "There was a major disaster in Eastern Japan. It was a way to communicate this to the world. We played the tournament not only for ourselves. We felt we had not only the support of Japan, but also the whole world."
Kaihori was named in the 2008 and 2012 Women's Olympic Football Tournament squads, playing once at London 2012 in a game against South Africa that saw her keep a clean sheet.
The Nadeshiko stopper joins fellow Canada 2015 finalists Homare Sawa and Abby Wambach in announcing her retirement from the game, with the pair hanging up their boots last year.