Former Football Ferns captain Abby Erceg says she is “shocked and disappointed” that her North Carolina Courage club have traded her to league rivals Racing Louisville.
Erceg and her off-field partner Carson Pickett are being transferred to the Kentucky club in a three-player deal, with United States international Emily Fox moving to the Courage.
Erceg (33) has been the Courage captain and centre-back for 115 games while Pickett plays left back, same as her replacement, Fox.
Ten days before the move, Erceg appeared openly critical of the Courage management, sharing her reaction to a deal made by the club and the Houston Dash for the NWSL Draft, saying: “Yup, it’s official. We still suck a (sic) at trades in 2023.”
In August, she signed a two-year contract extension, with her head coach, Sean Nahas, saying: “We wanted to make sure we were able to have her here long term to continue to build on the foundation she has already helped to create.”
Since then, circumstances have clearly changed, with Erceg also deciding she no longer wanted to play for New Zealand, after making 146 appearances.
As her trade to Racing was announced, Erceg wrote an emotional farewell letter to fans, sharing it on social media.
“Courage country, my heart breaks a little today and believe me when I say I am as shocked and disappointed as you are.
“The intention to see out my career with a club in which have so many fantastic memories comes to an end, as that intention is unfortunately not a shared one. You have made Raleigh my home away from home for the past 6 years and I will never forget the times that we had on and off the pitch.
“Some of the best moments of my career have been shared with you all. I gave this club everything I had through the good times and the bad so I leave with my head held high and I hope I led your team in a way that you were proud of.
“Thank you for everything, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.
“Now, I look forward to investing my efforts into a club with whom I already have a shared vision. Louisville, I am beyond excited to be representing your club for the upcoming season. humbly thank the organisation for allowing me to join in on their journey and am very much looking forward to getting started and seeing what 2023 brings for us!”
Courage reaction: ‘A cornerstone of our club’
Courage head coach Sean Nahas said:
“Abby has been a cornerstone of our club since her arrival in North Carolina. She was an integral part of our club’s championships over the years and someone who will go down as one of the best in league history
“We cannot thank her enough for everything she gave to our club, our fans, and community over the years. She set the standard daily to make her who she is: one of the greats.”
Racing reaction: ‘A player of high quality’
Racing head coach Kim Björkegren said:
“This is a big move for us.
“Obviously, Emily is a player of high quality. This trade, however, returns a great player at the left-back position in Carson and gives us a veteran central defender in Abby.
“Both players have great experience and talent and can help lead this team.
“Abby is great central defender
“She is strong and good in the air. Her first touch is really good and very good, even under pressure. Her leadership and quality will help this young group a lot.”
Ferns’ reaction: ‘Her legacy is indescribable.’
Of Erceg’s retirement from international football, Ferns head coach Jitka Klimková said:
“We respect Abby’s decision to step away from the national team set-up and focus on her club career
“Abby has been an important part of the Ferns journey and her legacy in the game here is indescribable.
“We wish her all the best for the future.”
Erceg represented New Zealand at four Olympic Games (Beijing 2008, London 2012, Rio 2016, Tokyo 2020) and four Women’s World Cups (China 2007, Germany 2011, Canada 2015, France 2019).
The former Mt Roskill Grammar School student played for Three Kings United, Western Springs and Fencibles United before starting a career abroad with clubs. in Australia, Germany and the United States.
She helped Courage to three NWSL Shields, the 2018 Women’s ICC Championship, and the 2022 NWSL Challenge Cup Championship.
Erceg’s farewell letter