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 made 82 appearances for England over a 17-year period, reached two World Cup semi-finals with the Lions, was second at the 2009 European Championships and was part of the Team GB squad for the 2012 London Olympics.
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 honored at Wednesday night’s WSL match against Birmingham at the Academy Stadium.
Speaking of her decision, she said: “It was obviously a pretty difficult decision for me to make, but after much deliberation and unfortunately being off the pitch for a while now due to an injury, it just felt like it was the right moment .
“Just as sad and strange it is to step away from something I have committed all my young adult life to, in the end it is something I feel really proud of and I can honestly say, hand on heart, I have not left the stone unopened.and I have not regretted how I have used myself and what I have achieved.
“I feel incredibly proud of my career, but in the end I’m really excited about the next steps and what’s to come in the future, and I’m just 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 career is just the beginning of the overall impact she will make.
“Although an injury has limited her appearances on the pitch during my time as manager, she has remained an integral member of our team and has made a real difference behind the scenes.
“She deserves all the praise she receives and I want to wish her the best for the future and the next step on her journey.”
Born in California to Mancunian parents, Bardsley spent the formative years of his career playing college football with the Cal State Fullerton Titans alongside Ajax America Women, Pali Blues and Sky Blue FC.
Bardsley made her senior debut in England in the Algarve Cup in March 2005 in a 4-0 victory over Northern Ireland before continuing to represent her country at seven major tournaments.
She had a prominent place when England finished second at the 2009 European Championships, won the Cyprus Cup in 2013 and 2015, secured third place at the 2015 World Cup and lifted the SheBelieves Cup in 2019.
In Manchester City, the Bardsley League Cup won its first season, playing a crucial role in the triple-winning year 2016-17, when City won the same trophy again along with the WSL League title and the Women’s FA Cup. More success came in the years that followed, with a double-winning campaign in 2018-19.
After sustaining a hamstring injury in a 2019 World Cup quarter-final against Norway, Bardsley rehabilitated during the 2019-20 campaign and enjoyed a period on loan at Olympics Reign in early 2021 after playing his 100. City appearance against Liverpool in November 2020.
When she got a spot in the Team GB squad for the Olympic Games in Tokyo last year, an injury forced her to withdraw from the squad ahead of the tournament.
And as the current campaign draws to a close, Bardsley has officially announced his retirement from the game, putting an end to a career that spans two decades.
Smith: An incredible career and amazing person
Sky Sports’ Sue Smith:
“She’s had an incredible career. Looking at the big tournaments she’s been to – the World Cup, the European Championships, the Olympics – she’s played a crucial role.
“An absolute top-class goalkeeper – shooting stopper, commander, a real leader behind. She works so hard off the field in terms of ensuring that she is physically in the best possible shape she can be.
“The injuries have really stopped her and she’s kept trying to get back from them. She’s an absolute perfectionist, so she knows if she can not be quite at the top, as 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 lovely girl, and I just hope she stays in football, because she will be greatly missed in the match. I wish her all the best, for sure a great person and a great career she’s had. “
How to follow WSL on Sky Sports …
Sky Sports – All 35 games will be available across Sky Sports’ flagship channels, including the Sky Sports Premier League, Sky Sports Football and Sky Sports Main Event.
Sky Sports digital – Follow all the latest from WSL across skysports.com and the app, including exclusive features and interviews, plus dedicated live blog coverage and in-game clips from live games on Sky Sports. You can watch free match highlights from all WSL matches this season on Sky Sports’ digital platforms and YouTube channel.
Sky Sports News – Running 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Barclays FA WSL fans can enjoy Sky Sports News (channel 409) rolling editorial coverage of the league and its stories throughout the season.
Inside WSL – Hosted by award-winning television station and journalist Jessica Creighton, Inside the WSL is a comprehensive summary of everything related to Barclays FA Women’s Super League and women’s football. Broadcast weekly from Thursday, September 9 at the Sky Sports Premier League, and a half-hour show will review and preview matches, including in-depth analysis and exclusive player interviews. Viewers can expect gripping access behind the scenes as well as an overview of all the action both on and off the field.
Sky Sports Social – In addition to coverage and visibility for the league across all of Sky Sports’ most important social media channels, a new bespoke Twitter channel @SkySportsWSL will be home to all of Barclays FA WSL content on Sky Sports.
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