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Striker retires to support ill partner; Adds goal, fiance in final game (video)

Rhali Dobson

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 25: Matt Stonham proposes to Rhali Dobson of Melbourne City after he final game, round 14 W-League match between Melbourne City and Perth Glory at Frank Holohan Reserve on March 25, 2021, in Melbourne, Australia. Rhali decided to retire early to support Matt through his treatment for a brain tumour (Photo by Darrian Traynor/Getty Images)

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Rhali Dobson and fiance Matt Stonham delivered the soccer world an emotional boost overnight.

The Melbourne City striker announced before Thursday’s match against Perth Glory that it would be her final match before retiring to spend time with partner Stonham, who is fighting a grade three brain tumor.

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Dobson, 28, has an Australia cap as part of a professional career that began at age 16 with Newcastle Jets and made five stops en route to Melbourne City, a partner club of Manchester City.

An physical therapist by trade, Dobson scored a goal in her final start -- a 2-1 win -- but the real fireworks came after the game and were caught on television.

Dobson had proposed to Stonham twice in recent weeks, but Stonham had “laughed it off” and clearly had plans of his own, proposing to the MCFC striker (She said yes).

Stonham had been a goalkeeper with the Maitland Magpies in 2015 when he had a seizure in a game. An ambulance took him to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Initially thought to be a benign tumor, Stonham has since had brain surgery and Dobson said Stonham is set to start “aggressive radiotherapy and aggressive chemotherapy” over the next 12-15 months.

From the Australian Associated Press:

“This is bigger than the sport. He is my absolute world,” said Dobson after accepting the proposal. “I’d kept things pretty quiet (with the team) because I wanted them to stay focused on making sure we had a strong finish to the end of the season. As we know, it’s been very up and down.

“They knew Matt had surgery and everything so they’ve been amazing in terms of messaging us both and making sure that we knew that they are here for us. They’ve been perfect.”

It’s awesome. That’s it. Godspeed, Rhali and Matt.

Follow @NicholasMendola