Barbieri brings down the curtain on Matildas career

Veteran Matildas goalkeeper Melissa “Bubs” Barbieri has announced her retirement from international football, bringing the curtain down on a stellar career in the green and gold.

Barbieri made 86 A international appearances (equal 6th on the all-time list) having made her debut against Canada in September 2002.

The 35-year-old was capped 120 times for the Matildas and was a mainstay between the posts for the national women’s team for the good part of a decade.

She holds the record for the most number of clean sheets for the Westfield Matildas (34 in A internationals).

Barbieri, who started as an outfield player before transitioning into a goalkeeper at the age of 20, made the decision to retire from international football after the Matildas outstanding World Cup campaign in Canada.

“Being a footballer can be very selfish at times so it’s a matter of doing what’s best for everyone involved in helping me pursue my international career, especially my mum and my husband but most importantly my daughter Holly considering how old she is and the amount of time I have to spend away from her,” Barbieri said.

“I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved over the years. I came into the sport as a child being told women don’t play football and grew up in an Italian household where women predominantly stayed at home and looked after the kids and certainly didn’t venture out into a male dominated sport, so I feel like I’ve broken down a lot of barriers becoming a footballer.”

Gallery: The best of Bubs

Barbieri featured in four Women’s World Cups and was the Matildas captain when Australia claimed the AFC Women’s Asian Cup crown in 2010.

Her longevity and ability to sustain an elite standard was illustrated when an injury to Lydia Williams saw her start in goals in Australia’s opening match of this year’s World Cup against eventual champions the USA in what would be her final appearance in a Matildas shirt.

“Becoming captain was probably the most memorable part of my career before winning the Asian Cup in 2010, and then ultimately coming back into the team and finishing off with a cap in Canada where my international career began,” Barbieri said.

“I debuted in Canada in 2002 and my last game was in Canada which is an amazing turn of events and it’s a journey that I’m very proud of.”

Matildas head coach Alen Stajcic reaffirmed the impact Barbieri had on Australia’s national women’s team, describing her contribution to the game as “massive”.

“She’s unique in a sense that she came from being a field player to becoming a goalkeeper and to have such a long and successful career is a tribute to how much work and effort she put into her game,” Stajcic said.

“She captained her country and has been a prominent person on and off the field…overall she has made a massive contribution to the game.”

Professional Footballers Australia Chief Executive Adam Vivian said Barbieri would go down in history as one of Australia’s best ever goalkeepers.

“Melissa’s career was truly outstanding, and she will rightly take her place amongst the greats of Australian football,” Vivian said.

“Few players have made the same impression on Australian football and she leaves behind her a legacy that will no doubt inspire the next generation.

“On behalf of all our members I would like to wish her all the very best for the future.”

PFA President Matt McKay hailed the impact she had made on the game.

“Australia has a proud tradition of producing ‘world class’ goalkeepers and Melissa has been amongst the very best,” McKay said.

“By playing at the top level for such a long time she managed to do what few other players have managed.

“I would like to thank her for everything she has given to the game and wish her all the very best for the future.”