A pitchside proposal was how former Matildas player Rhali Dobson wound up her elite-level football career this week, after celebrating a win in her final game for Melbourne City FC where she slotted in a goal to take her team to a 2-1 victory.
28-year-old Rhali announced her retirement from the W-League earlier this week as she planned to return to New South Wales to support her partner, former footballer Matt Stonham, through his treatment for brain cancer.
At the end of Melbourne City’s victory over Perth Glory in Melbourne’s south-east on Thurday night, Rhali ran over to family and friends on the sideline, before Matt joined her on the side of the pitch and popped the question. Yes, there’s a video, and yes I am 100% sobbing.
This is so bloody adorable, I’m crying into my coffee.
I just want to watch this over and over from every angle, thank you.
Rhali told ESPN on Tuesday about her decision to step back from the W-League, noting that it was Matt who “kicked her backside” back down to Victoria to finish the season. She also said that she wasn’t ready to leave football, but life sometimes sets the course for you.
“I don’t feel like I’m ready to retire but sometimes life makes those choices for you,” she told ESPN.
“But with everything going on it’s a decision that has to happen – because it’s bigger than the game.”
Her now-fiancé was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2015 when he had a seizure during a game for Maitland Magpies. Rhali said that his first brain surgery was successful, but a check-up in February this year revealed “a bit more activity in a very small area” of his brain, resulting in a second surgery to remove what turned out to be a grade III brain tumour.
She also confirmed that he’s now begun “aggressive radiotherapy” for the next couple of months before starting on an equally-as-aggressive chemotherapy for a full 12 months.
“We’ve caught things exceptionally early, he’s on the very positive end of the scale because of his age,” she said.
“He had no other signs or symptoms, it was for him a routine check-up. But ultimately, it is still brain cancer so I want us to have the opportunity to have everything life has to offer.”
Ugh, my heart.