- France's Camille Abily retired from international football in July
- The Breton midfielder has continued to play for her club side, Lyon
- She has been named as one of the ambassadors of the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup France 2018
“The France page has been turned, but the book is not closing,” stated Les Bleues midfielder Camille Abily as she announced her retirement from international football in late July, in a message tinged with sadness. And how could it be otherwise after a distinguished 16-year international career during which she earned no fewer than 183 caps?
A new chapter has therefore begun for Abily, who decided to prolong her footballing adventure at club level for at least another season. For Les Bleues, who have long flattered to deceive at major tournaments, it is also the end of an era, as they look to the future with confidence following the appointment of new coach Corinne Diacre earlier this month, and with the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™ on the horizon.
“There’s a fantastic generation of players coming through,” Abily told FIFA.com. “I’m delighted to pass on the baton to such young talents. They may lack experience in the senior international team, but they’ve shown that they’re capable of great things with their clubs and in the French U-17 or U-20 sides. I wish them all the best, and I hope with all my heart that 2019 can be our year. As we saw with the Netherlands at EURO 2017, playing at home can really give you wings!”
* *Abily at international level:
- 183 caps/37 goals for France
- One SheBelieves Cup (2017) and two Cyprus Women’s Cup (2012 and 2014) triumphs, as well as two Women’s World Cup appearances
- Greatest memory: “The 2011 World Cup. We reached the semi-finals and qualified for the 2012 Olympics. The atmosphere in Germany was amazing, and the enthusiasm was truly exceptional.”
- Reason for retiring: “My age (32) – I’m not as young as I used to be! It would have been another two-year cycle, and I wasn’t sure if I would still be playing football. It involves a lot of sacrifices. Psychologically, it was really tough, as I put a lot of pressure on myself; I wanted to be successful with France so much, but there were a lot of let-downs.”
While the Dutch tasted glory at the 2017 UEFA Women’s Championship, it was not a joyful experience for the Rennes-born attacking midfielder. Although France, propelled by an on-song Abily, were regarded as one of the favourites to claim the continental crown, they stumbled at the quarter-final stage, losing 1-0 to England in Deventer.
Then England manager Mark Sampson was quick to pay tribute to the French stalwart at the culmination of the match. “She doesn’t deserve to end her international career with a defeat; she’s a football legend,” he said. Abily responded: “That’s nice to hear, but it’s a bit over the top. That said, I’ve always given my all out on the pitch, and if some people see me as a role model for that reason, then all the better.”
*Abily at club level:
- Over 450 top-level matches/more than 200 goals
- Four UEFA Women’s Champions League titles with Lyon
- Ten French League titles with Lyon / 1 WPS Championship with FC Gold Pride
- 7 French Cups with Lyon*
For her hugely successful career and her fine performances, the evergreen Frenchwoman is indeed viewed as a role model, whether she wants to be or not. And this status saw her selected by the Local Organising Committee of the U-20 Women’s World Cup – which will also be hosted by France, in 2018 – as an ambassador.
The tournament will be held in Brittany, Abily’s native region. “I’m so happy that it’s taking place in my back yard. One advantage is that it never gets too hot!” she joked. “Brittany’s got big plans for the U-20 Women’s World Cup; its people are going to put their heart and soul into it. I’m positive that the stadiums will be packed, and I’ll be one of the first ones queuing to get in.”
It appears, therefore, that Abily is not quite finished with international fixtures just yet.
See you next summer in Brittany for the U-20 World Cup!