Manchester City and England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley will retire from professional football at the end of the season, bringing an end to a 20-year career.
Bardsley, who has earned 82 England caps over a 17-year spell, reached two World Cup semi-finals with the Lionesses, was a runner-up at Euro 2009 and was part of the Team GB squad for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
The 37-year-old has won a WSL title, three FA Cups and four League Cups with City since joining the club in 2013 and will be honoured at Wednesday evening’s WSL game against Birmingham at the Academy Stadium.
Speaking about her decision, she said: “It was obviously a pretty tough decision for me to make, but after a lot of deliberation and unfortunately being away from the pitch for quite a while now due to injury, it just felt like it was the right moment.
“As sad and strange as it is to be stepping away from something I’ve committed my entire young adult life to, ultimately it’s something I feel really proud of and I can honestly say, hand on heart, I’ve left no stone unturned and I have no regrets about how I’ve applied myself and what I’ve achieved.
“I feel incredibly proud of my career, but ultimately I’m really excited about the next steps and what is to come in the future, and I’m just very much looking forward to giving back to the football community in many other ways.”
City head coach Gareth Taylor added: “Karen has left an undeniable mark on women’s football and I believe her playing career is just the start of the overall impact she will make.
“Although injury has limited her appearances on the pitch during my time in charge, she has remained an integral member of our team and has made a real difference behind the scenes.
“She deserves all the plaudits she receives, and I would like to wish her the very best for the future and the next step of her journey.”
Born in California to Mancunian parents, Bardsley spent the formative years of her career playing college football with Cal State Fullerton Titans alongside stints with Ajax America Women, Pali Blues and Sky Blue FC.
Bardsley made her senior England debut in the Algarve Cup in March 2005 in a 4-0 win over Northern Ireland, before going on to represent her country at seven major tournaments.
She figured prominently as England finished runners-up in Euro 2009, won the Cyprus Cup in 2013 and 2015, secured a third-placed finish at the 2015 World Cup and lifted the SheBelieves Cup in 2019.
At Manchester City, Bardsley won the League Cup in her first season, played a crucial part in the treble-winning year of 2016-17 as City won the same trophy again alongside the WSL league title and Women’s FA Cup. More success arrived in the years that followed, with a double-winning campaign in 2018-19.
After suffering a hamstring injury in a 2019 World Cup quarter-final against Norway, Bardsley rehabilitated during the 2019-20 campaign and enjoyed a spell on loan at OL Reign in early 2021 after making her 100th City appearance against Liverpool in November 2020.
Earning a spot in the Team GB squad for the Tokyo Olympic Games last year, injury forced her to withdraw from the squad ahead of the tournament.
And with the current campaign nearing a conclusion, Bardsley has officially announced her retirement from the game, bringing an end to a career spanning two decades.
Smith: An incredible career and amazing person
Sky Sports’ Sue Smith:
“She’s had an incredible career. When you look at the major tournaments she’s been to – the World Cups, European Championships, Olympics – she’s played a pivotal role.
“An absolute top-class goalkeeper – shot-stopper, commanding, a real leader at the back. She works so hard off the field in terms of making sure she’s physically in the best possible shape she can be.
“The injuries have really hindered her and she’s kept trying to come back from them. She is an absolute perfectionist, so she knows if she can’t be at the very top, which she has been for many, many years, then it’s probably the right time for her.
“But I think more than that, she’s an absolutely amazing person. She’s such a nice girl and I just hope she stays within football because she’ll be greatly missed in the game. I wish her all the very best because what a great person and a fantastic career she’s had.”
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