Two-time Liberty A-League champ to retire: ‘I owe it to those in my life to change my priorities’

Melbourne Victory veteran and former Matilda Emma Checker will retire at the end of the 2023-24 Liberty A-League season.

Checker – an eight-time Matildas representative – has won two Championships and a pair of Premierships during her time in the A-Leagues.

The 28-year-old defender, who has scored two goals in 15 appearances in 2023-24, made the cross-town switch to Victory for a second spell after ending a four-season stint at Melbourne City ahead of this season.

However, while Checker feels “fitter than I have in a long time”, she believes she owes it “those in my life to change my priorities”.

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“It felt like it was the right time for me to step away from the game and begin a new journey,” Checker said ahead of Sunday’s Melbourne Derby against Melbourne City.

“I probably feel fitter than I have in a long time, physically, mentally and emotionally in every way and there’s always that doubt that comes but deep down, it’s the right decision for me and my family.

“I’ve had an incredible opportunity come up for me in my life that would mean I couldn’t give my all to football and I’ve had to make this decision. I feel like I owe it to those in my life to change my priorities.

“It’s hard to put names to the list of people I’d like to thank but my family, my partner and my coaches have been the most important to me throughout my career.

“They have made the most sacrifices for me across the journey and I am thankful to them for coming along with me in my football journey.”

Checker has made 148 appearances at Liberty A-League level, representing Adelaide United, Canberra United, Melbourne City and Melbourne Victory, also playing domestically in South Korea, France, Iceland and Sweden.

She made her debut for Adelaide in 2011 before making the move to Victory two years later.

Checker won the 2014 Championship as a Victory player and then eventually landed at City in 2019, winning another Championship.

“Emma is such a wonderful person and it is bittersweet for her to retire when she’s playing such good football and in such a great frame of mind,” said Victory’s director of football John Didulica.

“She should be proud of what she has contributed to Melbourne Victory, the A-League and to Australian football as a whole. She has led a generation of players who have sacrificed so much to allow women’s football to shine, so there is a sad irony to her stepping away from the game at this moment of time.

“As a Club, we’re very proud that we can give her the home send-off that she deserves, in none other than a Melbourne Derby on Sunday 17 March at Home of the Matildas, and hopefully with some silverware at the end of the season.

“We look forward to our fans giving her the chance to move onto the next phase of her life with a massive smile on her face and all their wonderful support at the derby and for the balance of the season.”