Received wisdom normally advocates bowing out while you are at the top - and Celia Sasic certainly did that.
Barely two weeks after the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015™, at which the German striker won the adidas Golden Boot as the tournament’s top scorer, Sasic took many onlookers completely by surprise by retiring from the game. It was a big loss, not only for the German national team but also for her club, 1. FFC Frankfurt. Sasic helped them win the UEFA Women’s Champions League in May and finished as the competition’s top scorer.
“When I announced my decision, my mind was already made up,” Sasic said in an exclusive interview with FIFA.com. “It wasn’t a case of me talking about it and then inviting other people into the decision-making process. It was a decision I made for myself, but obviously I discussed it with the people closest to me.
“That’s kind of a trait of mine,” she continued. “When I decide to do something and have my mind set on it then I tend to see it through. Only very few people in football knew about it beforehand. Nobody tried to dissuade me. It was more a case of: ‘OK, you know what you’ve got and how special it is, but on the other hand I can understand where you’re coming from.’”
Sasic is aware that her career as a professional afforded her special experiences, such as the opportunity to travel the world and take part in major tournaments. “I was surrounded by a team my entire life, with team-mates, coaches and doctors,” the 27-year-old said. “I was always a part of a big team or club. [Now] sometimes you think: ‘Man, there are so few people around me. It’s strange, boring. There’s nothing going on.’ When you’re used to being in a community and then it’s not there on the same scale or with the same frequency, it feels very different.” Nevertheless, Sasic insists she does not regret her decision.
Just because I’m not playing professionally anymore doesn’t mean that I’ve said goodbye to the game.
The 111-time international has not yet had time to reflect on her career, as too much has happened in the meantime. Since hanging up her boots, Sasic won the Best Women’s Player in Europe award, was nominated for the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year honour alongside Carli Lloyd and Aya Miyama, and was the only player not currently active to be included in the Women’s World XI.
“It will take a while yet before it all completely sinks in,” Sasic said. “It was a long, intensive time and a lot of things happened.” For example, she won the European Championship twice (in 2009 and 2013), the DFB Cup (in 2014) and earned a bronze medal at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament 2008. But what sticks out the most for her?
“Obviously winning titles, when you’re standing on the podium holding the trophy,” said Sasic, who was born in Bonn to a French mother and Cameroonian father. “But also individual games, certain moves and goals where you thought: ‘I’m never going to forget that.’
“I think the 2009 European Championship [stands out]. I’d only just recovered from glandular fever and was on the bench. We were behind against Norway in the semi-final and then I came on and scored to put us 2-1 up. You don’t forget moments like that. But I remember things that happened off the pitch too, things you experience in such a big community over all those years. There are stories that will always be retold.”
In a few months Sasic will be able to hold the best prize of the lot. She revealed at the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala that she is pregnant and preparing to face a completely different kind of challenge. However, she is eager to stay in touch with the game.
“Football is simply the best sport in the world and it’s so enjoyable,” she said. “Just because I’m not playing professionally anymore doesn’t mean that I’ve said goodbye to the game. I’ve just stopped being a professional. It’d be great to stay involved with football because it’s my passion.”