Wellington Phoenix women have been hit by the sudden loss of vice-captain Chloe Knott, who has been released from her contract as she steps away from football.
Knott, 27, has been a key part of the Phoenix's fantastic start to the season, playing all six matches for the A-League Women's third-placed side. Knott is said to have found it challenging to work a fulltime job in balance with her playing career, the Phoenix said on Thursday.
Her last appearance saw Knott net the winning goal against Perth Glory, as the Phoenix women enjoyed their best season to date since joining the A-League in 2021.
But citing financial strain, the midfielder has made the decision to "put her professional football career on hold".
"The decision to leave the team has been the toughest one I've ever had to make and is not something I have taken lightly," Knott said.
"I feel lucky for all the lessons and experiences I have had over the past three seasons, and mostly for the connections and friendships I'll have for the rest of my life.
"I'm at a stage in my life where I feel free and empowered to choose the spaces that are most conducive to my personal fulfilment and becoming the person I want to be."
Knott is a foundation player with the Phoenix women's side, and has been with the club since its inception.
Her loss compounds the Phoenix's woes in midfield, after losing Grace Wisnewski to a season-ending knee injury.