Southampton Women confirm key departure as club captain announces retirement

  • Southampton Women captain Rosie Parnell has announced her retirement from football
  • The childhood Saints fan returned in 2019 and was integral to consecutive promotions
  • "It's an easy decision because when you know it's right"
Southampton's St Mary's Stadium
Southampton's St Mary's Stadium / Clive Rose/GettyImages

Southampton Women captain Rosie Parnell has announced her retirement from football following the end of the 2023/24 season.

Parnell, 30, represented Southampton's Centre of Excellence between the ages of nine and 12 before returning to St Mary’s in 2019. After rejoining the club from London Bees, Parnell fulfilled a lifelong dream of representing the team she grew up supporting and played an integral role in their consecutive promotions.

The central defender was later named club captain when they went fully professional following promotion to the Championship, the second tier of the women’s game in England, ahead of the 2022/23 season.

In total, Parnell made 86 appearances and scored twice during the five seasons she spent with the Saints. In an open letter to Southampton supporters, she admits to feeling a mix of emotions as she calls time on her playing career.

"It's an easy decision because when you know it's right, you know, and for me mentally and physically I know it’s the right time,” she wrote.

"However, having made the decision in January, it's been a tough few months topped off with being injured and not being able to help the team end on the high I'd imagined."

Rosanna Parnell
Southampton Women's captain Rosie Parnell has announced her retirement from football / Robin Jones/GettyImages

"I honestly can't explain how proud I am to have represented this club and to have captained the side to many successes over the years, this club will always be special to me and I will continue to be a super Saints fan in the stands."

The club's director of women's football, Marieanne Spacey-Cale, added: "It has been a pleasure working with Rosie over the last five years, and she has been an integral member of the squad during such an important period in our history.

"As a leader, a professional, a teammate and as captain, Rosie has always given everything and, as a role model to players around her, she can be proud of her achievements both on and off the pitch with us.

"I know she’ll now be as loud of a supporter of the club off the pitch as she was as captain on it. From myself, and on behalf of all the staff and players, thank you for everything."

Southampton finished fourth in the Championship in the 2023/24 season, seven points off title winners Crystal Palace. It was their highest ever finish in the league, after they placed sixth in the standings in their debut season in 22/23.