Karen Bardsley: England and Manchester City goalkeeper announces retirement

Karen Bardsley announces her retirement
Karen Bardsley last played for Manchester City in a 7-0 win over Aston Villa in January 2021

England and Manchester City goalkeeper Karen Bardsley will retire at the end of the season after a 13-year career at the top of women’s football.

The 37-year-old has 81 appearances for England, while she has won eight major trophies with City, including her first Women’s Super League title.

Bardsley has been fighting for game time, however, since getting a hamstring injury at the 2019 World Cup.

“Ultimately, I want people to know that I’ve always done my best,” she said.

Bardsley’s last game for City was against Aston Villa in January 2021.

“When your body doesn’t match what your mind wants to do, it’s frustrating,” she told BBC Sport.

“The risk outweighed the rewards in terms of life after football. If I had to have another surgery like the ones I had, I don’t think it would be good for me, physically or psychologically.

“[Retirement] it was hard to accept. If I had this conversation a few years ago, I would be crying, I wouldn’t be able to say a word.

“I always tried to be the best leader and goalkeeper I could be.”

Karen Bardsley playing for England
Bardsley was forced to withdraw from the Team GB Olympic team due to injury last summer

Bardsley played in three World Cups and two Europeans for England, winning the SheBelieves Cup in 2019.

She also played at the 2012 London Olympics with team GB, which they lost 2-0 in the round of 16 to Canada.

Bardsley has been with Manchester City since 2014, winning a Women’s Super League title in 2016, three FA Cups and four League Cups.

“One of the most significant experiences of my life was win the League Cup final in my first season with Man City,” she said.

“We were this bunch of disorganized girls who were thrown together. Nobody expected anything from us.

“We all came together as a group and I remember that first goal, an Izzy Christiansen header, I just couldn’t believe it was happening.

“It solidified everything we wanted to happen. It was a very good start to the club’s history.”

‘We didn’t always get the respect we deserve’

Bardsley won eight trophies with Manchester City, including the club's first - the 2016 League Cup
Bardsley won eight trophies with Manchester City, including the club’s first – the 2016 League Cup

The US-born goalkeeper also said she was proud to be part of an England team to “break through some historic barriers”, including reach the semifinals of the World Cup in 2019.

“Ultimately, it’s an honor to be part of a community of incredibly talented female athletes who persevered in situations where they didn’t get the respect they deserve,” added Bardsley.

“We built and built, and now we’re at a place where girls can join a grassroots football club and aspire to be a Lioness or a professional football player.”

Bardsley began his career in 2009 with North American team Sky Blue FC, before a spell in Sweden with Linkopings. She then moved to the WSL’s Lincoln City Ladies, now Notts County, in 2013 before moving to the City.

After spending the last season on loan at US OL Reign, she signed a one-year contract extension with City in July.

Bardsley is already looking to the next stage of his career and wants to use his experience to help increase the participation of girls playing football – and build on the legacy of this summer’s Euro Cup in England.

She added: “What really excites me, what really motivates me, is giving people the best possible opportunity to reach their potential, whether in football or in another environment.

“I really want to give back to football and the goalkeeping community in particular. There are a lot of things I would do differently if I were a young goalkeeper with the knowledge I have now.”

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