Australia may have regained the world netball crown but today lost its most famous player with Liz Ellis retiring from the game.
The face of netball after 15 years in the national team, including four as captain, Ellis announced that Australia’s world championship final win over New Zealand in Auckland was her “fairytale finish”.
It was the 34-year-old defender’s third world title in a record 122-Test career and Australia’s ninth trophy in 44 years.
“I wanted a fairytale finish and I got it. That was enough for me,” Ellis told a press conference in Melbourne.
She rated Saturday’s 42-38 victory over arch-rival New Zealand as one of the finest matches of her career, which started as an eight-year-old.
“It was one of the best I can remember playing,” Ellis said.
“The last quarter was the most unbelievable I’ve played in.”
The goalkeeper revealed she made the decision to retire now back in August, after her Sydney Swifts team won the national competition for a second successive season.
She said her aging body was “starting to fall apart”.
“It made it more difficult when the Trans-Tasman league was announced but when the Swifts won the grand final I thought, that’ll do me and I was 99.9 per cent sure and then winning on Saturday night made it easy to say that’s enough.
“It’s hard to walk away from such a great team … but I’m 34 and things are starting to fall apart and when I get up in the morning I have to hobble around.
“There just comes a time when it time to finish.”
Ellis said she had thoughts about calling it quits when she suffered a serious knee injury in November 2005, ruling her out of the Melbourne Commonwealth Games the following year.
“I thought about giving it away but I really wanted to leave the sport my own terms.”
She named the three world championship wins as her career highs.
“I’ve always said that 1999 was the best but Saturday night tops that, knowing that it was my last.”
Captain-in-waiting Sharelle McMahon said it was a fitting way for Ellis to end her career.
“She’s a great leader both on and off the court so you can’t easily replace players like that,” said McMahon, adding she hadn’t yet given any thought to taking over the captaincy.
“She’s an amazing player, she’s changed her game as the time’s gone on.
“She’s extremely tough and I love it when she’s on my team and not when I’m playing against her.”
Australian coach Norma Plummer said the national team had plenty of depth but Ellis would be missed.
“She’s the most dogged player I’ve ever had the opportunity to coach. She never gives in.”
Ellis will holiday with her husband in South America in January and has plans to launch a charitable foundation.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do next year. The only thing I can say with any certainty is that I’m going to get my golf handicap down, it’s currently an embarrassing 36,” she said.
Liz Ellis career highlights
Australian netball team 1993-2007.
Australian captain since February 2004 (vice-captain 2000-2003).
Most-capped Australian netball player of all time – 122 Test matches
Represented Australia at four world netball championships, winning titles 1995, 1999 and 2007, and two Commonwealth Games, winning in 1998, 2002.
Captain of the Sydney Swifts since 2000 (vice-captain 1997-1999).
Won four Commonwealth Bank Trophy titles in 2001, 2004 and 2006, 2007.
Most-capped Commonwealth Bank Trophy player – 173 matches.
MAJOR AWARDS & MEDALS
Commonwealth Bank Trophy most valued player 1996, 1998, 2002 and 2006