Soccer Star Proposed to at Final Match After Announcing Retirement to Support Partner's Cancer Diagnosis
"This is bigger than the sport. He is my absolute world," Rhali Dobson said of her now-fiancé Matt Stonham
Melbourne City's Rhali Dobson scored big, both on and off the soccer field, this week.
On Thursday, the 28-year-old Australian soccer player helped lead her team to victory over Perth Glory and celebrated her win with a surprise proposal from her partner Matt Stonham.
As Dobson ran to the side of the field to celebrate winning her final match, Stonham embraced his girlfriend before getting down on one knee and proposing. Surprised by the romantic gesture, Dobson broke down into tears before saying yes and being swarmed by her Melbourne teammates.
Earlier this week, Dobson announced that she would be retiring from the sport to support Stonham as he battles brain cancer and begins radiotherapy.
"Matt and I are very open about everything. He was diagnosed with brain cancer six years ago after a seizure on the soccer field when he was playing," Dobson previously told ESPN.
"He had brain surgery and that was successful and then he elected to stay on just having reviews with oncology after everything went so well the first time. Purely to help out from a research perspective, he's really good that way," she continued.
"He was having a checkup and they noticed a bit more activity in a very small area [of his brain] back in February...Then we got the news two days after I got back down here to Melbourne that the part that they took out — which they got all of, which is fantastic — had transitioned to a grade III brain tumor," she explained.
Dobson said Stonham will start "aggressive radiotherapy" until the end of May followed by "aggressive chemotherapy" for one year.
"We've caught things exceptionally early, he's on the very positive end of the scale because of his age. He had no other signs or symptoms, it was for him a routine check-up," she said.
"This is bigger than the sport. He is my absolute world," Dobson said of her now-fiancé.
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According to The Guardian, Dobson had proposed to Stonham twice in recent weeks, but her partner had previously laughed off the idea.
"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," Dobson said of Stonham's condition.
"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," she added. "They've been perfect."