ONE goal, one victory, one engagement ring and a lifetime of memories.
That was Rhali Dobson's personal haul after she farewelled the W-League in emotional style on March 25.
Since making her debut for the Newcastle Jets in 2011, Dobson has rarely been centre stage during her decade-long involvement in the semi-professional competition.
So there was plenty of irony as she was thrust into the spotlight when partner Matt Stonham dropped to one knee shortly after full-time in Melbourne City's 2-1 win over Perth Glory.
Unbeknown to the duo, broadcaster Fox Sports was still on-air. The ensuing seven days have been a whirlwind.
"I thought it was already perfect when I scored the goal and there's a photo of me crying amidst everyone crowding me and in my head I thought it couldn't be more perfect," Dobson said of her farewell goal.
"Then Matt blew it out of the water by dropping down on one knee."
When you dig a little deeper you realise why they both acknowledge football is just a game.
"Matt has started radiotherapy which will go until the end of May," the one-time Australian Matilda said.
"Then he'll have a month off and then start aggressive chemotherapy for 12 months which we've been advised will be exceptionally rough.
"But because of his age and the prognosis ... he's more at the positive end of the scale so they can be aggressive (with treatment) and have better outcomes.
"That will be the next 16 months and then we'll be planning a wedding as well."
Dobson has already spent large portions of the past four years away from her inspirational partner and it simply wasn't an option to keep on doing it.
She knows she can play football anywhere, any time.
"As female athletes, we don't earn enough money at all to support ourselves let alone our other halves," she said.
"It wasn't an option for me to continue my career as a part-time athlete and part-time occupational therapist and then up and move Matt to Melbourne and support him."
The midfielder said she had already made the decision to retire at Melbourne City as their expectations of their athletes was reflective of her as a person.
"Once we got the news about Matt I decided there and then that I was going to retire so I could move home and be by his side every step of the way and support him through everything," she said.
"I can play soccer almost at any age - maybe not at this level - but I can play in the backyard or with some mates at the park or just locally.
"But our relationship ... we never know what the future is going to hold so you need to make the most of it while it's there."
The duo plan to walk down the aisle at the end of 2022.
"This is bigger than a game, bigger than a sport, bigger than me following my career in the soccer world," Dobson said.
"He's everything to me and I want us to go on a new adventure and look at doing everything we possibly can together."
Fittingly, the football field provided the backdrop for one of the more memorable moments in the W-League.
"The words, well-wishers, support and love we've received from the football community both locally, nationally and internationally has been overwhelming," she said.
"It's dominated our week, but it's so nice to feel that love from the game after putting so much into it."
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