Homare Sawa has always been regarded as a winner throughout her long career. And she was still thought of in that way when she left the pitch for the final time.
Sawa, the 2011 FIFA Women's World Player of the Year, scored the game-winning goal and wrapped up a career full of accolades with a 1-0 win over Albirex Niigata Ladies in the All-Japan Women's Championship final at Todoroki Stadium on Sunday.
Kobe, one of the powerhouse clubs in Japanese women's soccer this century, captured its first Empress' Cup in two years and fifth in the last six years in front of a record crowd of 20,379. Albirex, who finished runnerup in the annual tournament in 2011 and 2013, was saddled with another second-place finish.