German football star Melanie Leupolz has decided to hang up her international boots to focus on her club career with Chelsea and her role as a mother. The 29-year-old midfielder made this announcement recently, citing the intense pressures of juggling international football and motherhood.
🚨 Melanie Leupolz has announced her retirement from international football.
Good luck for the future! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/8YjVDc0Goo
— ata football (@atafball) September 11, 2023
Leupolz's journey back to top-level football after giving birth was nothing short of inspirational. She made headlines when she brought her nine-month-old son with her to the Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand earlier this year. Her commitment to both her career and motherhood earned her admiration from fans worldwide.
Leupolz shared her thoughts on this significant choice, stating, "It was important for me to make my way back into the DFB [German Football Association] team after giving birth, and I'm very proud to have played another World Cup for my country. The fact that I could experience this with my son made this even more valuable for me. At the same time, however, I noticed that the multiple sources of pressure were draining my energy."
The demands on female football players have been increasing, with international competitions like the Nations League following closely on the heels of major tournaments like the World Cup. For Leupolz, who now plays a pivotal role at Chelsea, this left her with little time to recover and prepare for the domestic season and the Champions League. "I want to live up to the highest level at Chelsea and achieve all sporting goals with my team at 100% energy," Leupolz declared, explaining her decision to step back from international duty. Leupolz's decision aligns with her focus on Chelsea, where she aims to contribute her utmost to the team's success. Chelsea has been incredibly supportive of her return, offering specialized coaching and expert guidance to aid her comeback.
Leupolz's journey symbolizes the unique challenges faced by female footballers who choose to become parents during their careers. While the footballing world has made progress in supporting female players returning after pregnancy, there's still much work to be done. Not long ago, pregnancy often marked the end of a top-level career for female athletes, and the situation remains challenging, particularly in lower-tier football. German footballer Almuth Schult, who returned to play for the national team after giving birth to twins in 2021, shared that the footballing world wasn't initially prepared for such situations.
Melanie Leupolz has made the decision to retire from international football.
We’re so proud of everything you achieved, Melly! 🖤❤️💛 pic.twitter.com/zoLPPukuAW
— Chelsea FC Women (@ChelseaFCW) September 11, 2023
Joti Chatzialexiou, the DFB's sporting director, acknowledged Leupolz's role model status, saying, "She is a role model for female footballers and athletes. She has also impressively shown how to return to professional football after pregnancy successfully. I greatly regret her retirement from the national team, but I can understand her reasons."
Melanie Leupolz's remarkable international career saw her make 79 appearances for Germany, scoring 13 goals, and winning the Euros in 2013 and claiming Olympic gold in 2016. Her retirement from the German national team marks a new chapter in her career, where she will channel her energy and talent into achieving her goals with Chelsea. While Germany will miss her contributions on the international stage, Chelsea is poised to benefit from Leupolz's dedication as they strive for Women's Super League and Champions League glory.