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Sheffield FC Ladies' longest serving player, Lisa Giampalma, has decided to call time on her playing days at the club.
Having joined in summer 2007, Giampalma has been a part of every trophy the ladies first team has ever won - 12 in total (six league titles, one league cup, four county cups, and one Championship play-off). She has racked up over 270 appearances and scored over 100 goals for the Club, and in spite of being one of the older players in the squad, Giampalma has remained one of the fittest.
Giampalma joined Sheffield FC from Loughborough Students after moving up to Sheffield for work. Playing in central midfield, she quickly became a vital part of the squad, and a firm favourite amongst the team's supporters. League success and promotion followed at the end of that first season, followed by back-to-back promotions in 2009-10 and 2010-11 to see the club join the FA Women's Premier League for the first time.
Giampalma progressed to a role as a winger, her pace and boundless energy contributing hugely to Sheffield's attacking style of play as they ended 2011-12 as runners-up. The following three seasons brought more success to the Club with the first team finishing top of the FA WPL Northern Division each year, retaining the Sheffield & Hallamshire Women's Challenge Cup three times, and adding the FA WPL Cup, with Giampalma on the scoresheet in the final.
Most recently, Giampalma played a key role in the FA WPL Championship Play-Off Final last May, when Sheffield's 1-0 win against Portsmouth handed the team its greatest prize to date - promotion to the FA Women's Super League - with the winger scoring the injury time winner.
"Sheffield FC has so much to thank Lisa for," said former first team manager, Helen Mitchell. "It's hard to do justice to a career which has been so long, so incredibly successful, and so important to the club. We've had some fantastic times over recent years, and Lisa has not only been present for them all, but has played a vital role in our successes.
"She epitomises what this Club is about: hard work, commitment, determination and selflessness. She's hardly missed a training session in eight years, except for injury. She's sacrificed so much time over the years, given so much energy, and showed so much dedication - I cannot imagine a player who could've given more to this club. She is Sheffield through and through, would run through walls for the team, was so proud to wear the shirt week in week out, and there have been few players as worthy as Lisa to do so.
"It's an incredible story - one you couldn't write. Lisa scored the goal which won us our first ever trophy (the North East Regional WFL Division 1 South league title in 2007-08) in a 1-1 draw against Keighley on the final day of the season, and scored the goal which secured our most recent title…seven years later in the FA WPL Championship Play-Off Final.
"Lisa's announcement last week has been tough news to take for the current players, but I think everyone also appreciates the timing and respects what has obviously been a very emotional and hard decision for Lisa to take. She will always be valued and respected here, and it will be very difficult for anyone to replicate what she's achieved or to break her record of all-time appearances for the Club. On behalf of everyone, I'd like to thank Lisa for her unfailing loyalty, her unparalleled contribution to the progress the Club has made, and for her humility, selflessness and sheer hard work."
Giampalma feels the time is now right to call it a day, ahead of the Club's debut season in the FA WSL, on the dawn of a new chapter in the club's progression, where so much is about to change. "I've had the most amazing eight seasons I could ever have wished for at Sheffield FC," she said. "When I first joined the club, I wouldn't have believed I could've achieved so much, but more importantly, could've enjoyed playing as much as I have with some fantastic players and great friends.
"My time here reached its pinnacle last season, scoring the winning goal in the FA WPL Play-Off Final allowing us to be promoted to the FA WSL, a day I will never ever forget! Sheffield FC is a unique club - there's a spirit and atmosphere amongst the players that I'm yet to see anywhere else, and I feel privileged to have been a part of this for so many years.
"I'm very grateful to every player I've been lucky enough to play with, both past and present. I'd also like to thank Mitch who, without a doubt, has been one of the best managers in the women's game. Her dedication, passion and drive has made mine and every other player's experience here so special, and has been key to our unbelievable success, but most of all, our fantastic experience as part of this Club.
"It's been a really difficult decision, and I'm very sad to leave the Club as its been such a huge part of my life for so long, but I feel the time is right and I wish both the development and first team players all the best in their WSL venture."
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