Football Ferns veteran Ria Percival announces retirement

Ria Percival.
Ria Percival. Photo credit: Getty Images

Midfielder Ria Percival has announced her retirement from international football, ending an illustrious 18-year career with the Football Ferns.

Percival played 166 times at senior level, more than any other female or male player in New Zealand football history, in a career that spanned four Olympic Games and five FIFA World Cups.

Her final matches came during the pool phase of last year's World Cup co-hosted by New Zealand, having fought back from a serious knee injury suffered the previous year.

The 34-year-old, who is on loan at English club Crystal Palace, said the decision to end her international career came with a "heavy heart".

Katie Bowen and Ria Percival of New Zealand celebrate their team's 1-0 win at last year's World cup.
Katie Bowen and Ria Percival of New Zealand celebrate their team's 1-0 win at last year's World cup. Photo credit: Getty Images

"It has been one of the most difficult decisions that I've had to make, and it's not been one that I've taken lightly, but I feel that it is the right time for me," Percival said in a statement.

"As I look back, with many different emotions, and reflect on my time as a Fern, it's been the biggest honour and a pleasure to have represented New Zealand.

"I've worn the shirt with pride, courage, commitment, dedication and gave everything that I have for my country. I've learnt so much and grown both on and off the pitch over the years, becoming a leader, role model, and mentor, inspiring my team mates as well as the next generation."

Percival's first taste of international football came as a 15-year-old, playing at the 2006 under-20 World Cup.

She made her Football Ferns debut a year later, winning selection for the FIFA World Cup in China.

After representing Auckland club Lynn-Avon United, Percival's long offshore professional career began in North America, before three stints at German clubs.

After a season at West Ham, she moved to cross-town English Super League rivals Tottenham Hotspur in 2019, playing nearly 50 games there before being loaned to Crystal Palace this year.