WSL star Anita Asante prepares for last game with Aston Villa

Anita Asante Credit: ITV Central

Few footballers can lay claim to the kind of career enjoyed by Aston Villa's Anita Asante.

Among the highlights there's 71 caps for England, winning a Quadruple for Arsenal, winning the inaugural Women's football championship in the US and even kicking off Team GB's attempt at glory at the London 2012 Olympics.

But after two seasons with WSL newbies Aston Villa, she is calling time on her glittering career.  One game remains - with local rivals, and freshly relegated side, Birmingham City on Sunday.

'Winning my championship season in America, meeting Barack Obama, they're always going to live in my memory, but ultimately it's the connections I made in football.'

"I am excited to play a derby at Villa park and end my career playing there, with my teammates and all the staff who have been behind me all season, a great way to be able to bow out and hopefully deliver a good performance as well."

She's clearly keeping her eye on 'the next game' as any good professional should. But Sunday's home match with Birmingham City Women will be an occasion full of emotion for the 37 year old. I asked Anita what stands out from her time in the game, and with a smile she remembered many past glories.

"Ultimately I always say winning the quadruple with Arsenal, kicking off the Olympics, there's a number of things really, winning my championship season in America, and meeting Barack Obama, things like that are always going to live in my memories for a long time

"Ultimately it is the connections I made in football, playing with players across the world and working with coaches I have learned a great deal from."

Those connections could well help in her continuing journey. Anita is clear, her time in football is simply changing direction, not ending... "I'd love to get back on the grass in a coaching capacity and people will hopefully see me on their screens doing punditry and obviously following the women's game in the WSL and beyond. I will definitely be an active participant around football".

'An unbelievable human, unbelievable professional...she's taught me a lot.'

That brings me to the club where she ends her playing career. During my visit I watched her score two fabulous goals on one of the training pitches at Aston Villa's vast facility in Warwickshire. She's clearly still got the magic. To give you an idea of the scale of their Bodymoor Heath training ground, I'll quote from the helpful security guard I spoke to upon arriving at the wrong entrance "You need the next entrance, it's about a mile down the road'.

Once in the right place I spotted Aston Villa Women's Head Coach Carla Ward, who I've known since her spell in charge with Birmingham. It was actually Carla I was due to speak to, but our conversation soon turned to Anita, at which point Carla promptly suggested I should speak to her.

"I could speak until the cows come home about Neatz, she has been outstanding, she's an unbelievable human, an unbelievable professional , someone I have absolutely loved working with. She has taught me a lot, I am not going to lie, and is someone I have had to lean on a bit this year. I said to the players, let's use this week as motivation to send Neetz out on a high"

Anita Asante scoring a goal.

There is no question her teammates will aim to do just that. But having watched her in fine form and scoring for fun, I did wonder why Anita was calling time now.

"I think your heart always tells you you can keep going and at heart I am still that kid who started playing football in my ball court, in my estate but there comes a point where I want to explore new things and also give back to the game in a different way". 

Well she went far beyond the ball court on her estate, as she lived the life that is for most merely a dream. But after a dazzling career, Anita Asante runs out one last time, at Villa Park this Sunday at midday.