Tuesday 15 May 2018

Toni-Anne Wayne announces retirement ahead of final-day swansong on Sunday

Tottenham Hotspur Ladies’ number one, Toni-Anne Wayne has decided to bring an end to a sparkling career that has seen her represent six clubs and England in an Under-19 World Cup.

Wayne will play her last match when Spurs Ladies play London Bees at Cheshunt Football Ground on Sunday for the final game of their first-ever season in the FA Women’s Super League 2.

The 35-year-old stopper, who joined her first girls’ team at the age of 10, is hanging up her gloves to look for a new challenge in the game, and to devote more time to her other sporting passions, Hockey and Cricket.

It marks the end of a career which has seen the goalkeeper lead the Club to the promised land of the FA Women’s Super League. She was part of the side that won the FA Women’s Premier League at White Hart Lane and achieved back-to-back successes in both the Ryman ‘Boux Avenue’ Women’s Cup and FA Women’s Premier League Cup.

Wayne has also represented England U19s at the World Cup in Canada, recorded appearances at U21 level and enjoyed senior England training camp call-ups during her long career in the game.

The custodian, who began her career at Arsenal, followed by spells at Charlton Athletic, Southampton, West Ham United and Brighton & Hove Albion, says her farewell will be emotional, but a celebration to remember:

“Sunday is going to be really hard; I have spent four seasons with these girls and it has been the best of my career,” said the former England youth goalkeeper. “My family will be there too and I cry at anything, so I’m sure there will be a few tears.

“Football at this level has taken up my life; it’s time for me to enjoy more free time and I feel I have done as much as I can in goal.

“My career has varied and there have been many ups, but just as many downs for me. When I left Brighton four seasons ago, I had lost the love for football and was planning on retiring then. However, Karen [Hills] approached me and convinced me to come to training at Tottenham. I had always played against them and as soon as I had my first training session, I knew that it would be a good fit and that I would get on with everyone. Tottenham helped me to regain my love for football.

“The girls are some of the craziest, yet loyal people I have ever known. When my dad passed away last year, they were there for me like family and I will never ever forget that. I want to thank each and every one of them that have come and gone throughout my career at the Club. I want to thank the coaches for their help and support, and Aaron Tillbrook for keeping me sane when I have been close to losing my head.

“My biggest thank you goes to my goalkeeper union. This year’s union has been the best yet and I have enjoyed working with each one of you. To Luke [Sheldrick], you have taught me more than any coach ever has and I have enjoyed every moment!

“Thank you, and I love you all.”

Club captain Jenna Schillaci says Wayne is fully deserving of the glittering career she’s achieved, and admires her for more than the prowess she shows between the posts.

“Toni has been one of the top goalkeepers in women’s football throughout her career,” Jenna said. “She has been a big part of this team’s success on the pitch and a big character that will be missed off the pitch. Over the seasons, her vital game-winning saves are part of the reason why we are where we are today.

“On the pitch, she is a true professional and off it, she is one of the nicest people around and a good friend to all of us. She’s a true role model to any aspiring ‘keeper; not only has she helped me progress as a player, she has also helped a lot of our younger players by always pushing them to be better.

“You will be massively missed Toni and we wish you all the best for the future!” finished Schillaci.

First Team Head Coach Juan Amoros echoed his captain’s sentiments and highlighted Wayne’s exemplary professionalism as an integral reason for the Club’s continued growth, both on and off pitch.

"From the moment Toni arrived, the Club changed its mentality, she has helped us to develop the younger goalkeepers and Chloe [Morgan] - she’s helped all her teammates and coaches to develop on and off the pitch. Her professionalism has taken the team to a new level,” said Amoros.

“She has lived the best years of this Club on the pitch and contributed massively to achieve all that we have. She has given us unforgettable moments and will be part of this family forever. I do not have enough words to describe how thankful I am, and our door will always be open to her, whatever she wants.”

Juan concluded: “I can openly say she’s the best goalkeeper I have coached in my career and can only thank her for all she has done for us and for me, at all levels. Gracias Amiga."

To join us for Toni’s farewell this Sunday at Cheshunt Football Ground when London Bees arrive for the 2:00pm kick-off, visit - http://www.tottenhamhotspur.com/spursladies/tickets/