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Former England international midfielder Rachel Stowell (nee McArthur) has announced her retirement from the game at the age of 32.
Rachel, known throughout the game as 'Macca', began her career at her local club Bristol City and, as a 17-year-old, was part of the City squad which reached the semi finals of the F.A.Women's Cup in 1994-95, including a famous victory over Millwall Lionesses. She moved on to join Southampton Saints where, under the managership of Vanessa Raynbird, they went one better and made it to the Cup Final in 1999 where they lost 2-0 to Arsenal.
In 2000, Rachel's career took off as she joined the country's first professional women's team at Fulham. She enjoyed much success with the Cottagers, which culminated in them winning the treble in 2002-03. The team's professional status was ended following that season though and, 12 months later, she returned to her roots by rejoining Bristol City.
Her season at City resulted in an unsuccessful battle against relegation however and she went on to sign for Arsenal, where she helped them to the league and cup 'double'. Next was a more ill-fated spell at Leeds Utd/Carnegie which was cut short by a serious knee injury, as well as a spell out of the game when giving birth to her daughter Grace. On returning to football, Rachel joined Leicester City whom she captained to third place in the Northern Division this season.
Rachel won 17 caps for England, scoring once, and is still the only Bristol-born player to be capped for England at senior level. She won two Premier League titles, five F.A.Women's Cup winners medals, two Premier League Cup winners medals and the Community Shield twice.
"Everyone here at the club has been fortunate to have Macca here as a part of the squad for the last season and a half," said Leicester manager Rehanne Skinner. "After coming back from an ACL reconstruction and also having a baby, she worked really hard to get back into football and transferred to us from Leeds Carnegie. Macca's work ethic, enthusiasm for the game and commitment is a real credit to her and also has a huge influence on the players around her to raise their standards and work hard.
"When I found out about her retirement, I was confident that the players and managers she has met along the way would have something to say about her career which speaks for itself, so it was pleasing to see comments come back from the likes of Brent Hills, Sue Smith, Rachel Yankey and Marieanne Spacey to name just a few! There were over 100 comments compiled from various people, all paying tribute to Rachel's career which I think speaks volumes.
"Obviously we will miss her as a player at our club but with family priorities it is understandable that it has come at this time. We as a club all wish her the best as I'm sure does everyone else whom she has known throughout her career."
Rachel has been a good friend to us all at Women's Soccer Scene for many years and we shall miss her. We wish her the very best of luck for the future along with her husband, former goalkeeper Mike Stowell.
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