|Venue: Stadium MK, Milton Keynes Date: Saturday, May 20 Start: 13:00 BST
|Scope: LIVE on BBC iPlayer and the BBC Sport app and website
Wales’ leading goalscorer Helen Ward says football has given her “everything” as she prepares to bring down the curtain on her playing career.
Ward’s Watford take on Nottingham Forest in the Women’s National League play-off final in Milton Keynes on Saturday (13:00 BST).
Ward, 37, is set for the final appearance of his career.
“I met my husband through football and we have two beautiful children,” said the striker.
“So it literally gave me my world, some of my best memories and my best friends.
“It taught me how to be a good person, a good teammate, to work hard for success and how to deal with disappointment and failures.”
Watford were beaten 3-2 in extra time by Nottingham Forest in the FA Women’s National League Cup final in April.
This time the prize on offer was promotion to the Championship, which Ward said was a nice distraction heading into the final game of his 22nd season as a player.
“It’s a big game,” Ward said. “It’s weird because there’s so much riding on it, it doesn’t mean anything to me personally [level] than I thought the team was.”
Watford beat Ipswich Town to the Southern National League title on goal difference, with Forest doing the same to finish Wolves in the Northern National League.
“It was good to win the league last weekend,” added Ward.
“I told the girls to make sure you enjoy it because you don’t get many opportunities to win titles no matter what team sport you play for, or club you’re at.
“I will settle a one-sided affair in our favor [on Saturday] but I’m not sure it will go that way! It’s going to be tight.”
From the back garden to a Watford club legend
Ward, who has scored 44 goals in 105 games for Wales, began his playing career at Watford as a 15-year-old, having started playing “for fun in the garden” with his brother.
“He said, ‘You’re not bad’,” she said.
“You don’t often get praise from your older brother, so I took him at his word and went to a training session here at Watford and never looked back.
“It’s been a journey for me from a kid who just played for the fun of it, to now having kids who have players to look up to and a career to aspire to.”
Ward had spells at Arsenal, Chelsea and Reading before returning to Watford, the club where it all started.
There is a new mural on Vicarage Road depicting the striker.
“When you look and see Luther Blissett, Elton John and Graham Taylor three other murals on the ground, to be in that company is pretty surreal to be honest,” added Ward.
“Their status – as any Watford fan and most football fans know – at this club is legendary.
“I’m nowhere near the bracket so even having my little wall on the stand is amazing.
“I’m honored and privileged to be at a club that I support as well, it means the world to me and my family too.
“It’s a little scary when you see your own face so big, but thankfully when I go to watch the men’s game, I go into a very different ground so I don’t have to go through it all the time. But it’s nice to know it’s there.”
Ward’s longevity in the game means there have been many songs sung about him by Watford and Wales supporters alike – including the Baby Shark tune – but he highlighted his favourite.
“I really like Wardie on fire, that’s a good sound,” he said.
“At the weekend we had ‘If Wardie scores we’re on the pitch’.
“I didn’t score badly because I wanted to see that, but any time your name is chanted in the stands by a group of supportive people, it’s obviously amazing.
“I’m grateful to everyone who has come and cheered me on at some point over the last 22 years.
Ward announced his retirement from international football in March, and said he would hang up his boots at the end of the season.
On Saturday, Ward had the chance to end his career on a high, in the game he credits with teaching him so many life lessons.
“I’m not a professional yet, so it’s crazy,” he said.
“I didn’t get paid until I was 22 and I signed for Arsenal, which is still a pay-as-you-play deal. I’m very grateful for that.
“I don’t wish I was born 10, 15 years ago because I had a great time, met some of the best people in my life.
“My journey is what it is and I’m proud to have achieved what I’ve achieved and I wouldn’t have taken it any other way.
“You go through anything you learn in life and I learned most of it through football, so I owe a lot to football. I can think of giving back.
“Bringing this club back to the Championship is the perfect way to sign off my career.”