Most Capped African Player Retires

With 185 appearances, Janine van Wyk, the captain of South Africa's national women's football team, holds the record for most caps of any player in African football history, regardless of gender. However, she has decided to retire from international competition.

On Monday, December 4, the 36-year-old played her final match for her country in Pretoria, where they defeated Burkina Faso 2-0. The victory guaranteed the team's qualification to the Women's Africa Cup of Nations in 2024.

Her 185 caps eclipse the previous record held by Egypt men's team icon Ahmed Hassan, who has 184 international appearances, to become the most-capped player in African football history. The South African legend, who missed the Women's World Cup 2023 in Australia and New Zealand due to injury, had already officially announced her international retirement last October but was granted the opportunity to earn the two caps needed to surpass Hassan's long-standing record.
The defender symbolically exited the Atteridgeville pitch after just eight minutes of play of her farewell match, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd while sharing hugs with her Banyana Banyana teammates. "I am absolutely over the moon right now. I am excited. Bit of mixed emotions, you know, leaving the game; it’s not really easy leaving something that you love and you have been doing for your whole life, and now it’s just transitioning into the next chapter," the player expressed pitchside at the final whistle as she was presented with a special jersey by SAFA president Danny Jordan.

"It's an incredible journey that I had and this has just been the cherry on top of the cake for me and a great fulfilment of a lengthy career,” she concluded. Van Wyk departs the game as a trailblazer and an icon for women's football in Africa. She earned the first of her 185 caps in 2005 and exits the sport as a reigning continental champion after captaining South Africa to their first WAFCON victory in 2022, defeating hosts Morocco 2-1 in the final.
Her highlights with her national team include leading the side to their first Women's World Cup in 2019, while also representing South Africa twice at the Olympic Games – first at London 2012 and again at Rio 2016. At the club level, Van Wyk began her career at Moroka Swallows before moving to Palace Super Falcons, where she won three consecutive South African league titles. In 2017, she became the first South African to play in the NWSL when she joined Houston Dash before later stints at Fortuna Hjørring and Glasgow City. In 2013, Van Wyk established her own club named JVW F.C., where she played and, at one point, took on the role of player-coach.

Her club actively promoted and supported schoolgirls interested in playing football, fostering a dedicated schoolgirls league that hosted 160 teams and engaged 3200 girls in active participation at the school level.