England and Chelsea midfielder Karen Carney will retire from club and international football after Saturday’s Women’s World Cup third-place play-off against Sweden.
The 31-year-old made her senior debut for Birmingham aged 14, and went on to play in four World Cups for England and the 2012 Olympics for Great Britain.
She made her England debut in 2005 and has won 143 caps and scored 32 goals.
I wasn’t good at school so I wouldn’t have gone to university. I’m so grateful for football and I don’t know where I would be without itKaren Carney
“I am incredibly proud to have achieved so much in the game,” she said.
The England and Chelsea midfielder, who made her senior debut for Birmingham aged 14, added: “The thing I’ll miss most is singing the anthem, but also kicking a ball.
“But now is definitely the right time to retire. I don’t think I have any more in the tank. I’ve given my heart and soul to club and country, there’s nothing more I can physically or mentally give. I have no regrets.
“To have played for England was my ultimate ambition and to do so at four World Cups and represent Team GB at a home Olympics was beyond the wildest dreams I had when first starting out.”
Carney, nicknamed ‘The Wizard’ for her skilful playing style, is the longest-serving member of England’s current squad and has reached two World Cup semi-finals.
She has made three substitute appearances in France as Phil Neville’s team made it to a semi-final against defending champions the USA, and is set to play against Sweden on Saturday.
She also was part of the 2015 World Cup squad which finished third in Canada. Only Reading midfielder Fara Williams (170) has more international caps for England.
When asked where she would be without football, Carney said: “In the nicest possible way, my first job was at Sainsbury’s – my mum worked there and I was a bag packer. I would have worked my way up there.
“I wasn’t good at school so I wouldn’t have gone to university. I’m so grateful for football and I don’t know where I would be without it, but I know I would have worked hard.”
The FA said Carney’s service for club and country would be recognised at a future international fixture.
Neville said: “Karen deserves all the plaudits that will come her way. It has been a privilege to work with her over the past 18 months but even more special has been the chance to get to know someone who is an incredible person and a special team-mate.
“While she will not want a fuss, Karen is someone who deserves total recognition and respect as a true legend of the game.”
After her first of two spells at her hometown club Birmingham City, she was part of the Arsenal team who won an unprecedented quadruple in the 2006-07 season.
A spell in the United States with Chicago Red Stars followed before she returned to Birmingham, where she scored the winning penalty in the 2012 FA Women’s Cup final shoot-out win over Chelsea, a team she would join in 2015.
The same year she became the first female player to be inducted into Birmingham City’s Hall of Fame.
She won the player of the year award in her first full season at Chelsea and was part of the 2017-18 double-winning squad.
Carney has revealed she has been affected by depression at points in her career, leading her to self-harm, and says there was a time when she “hated football with a complete passion”.
She said that, at one point, she could not get out of her car to train.
Tributes for ‘The Wizard’
England forward Beth Mead said of Carney: “A player who I looked up massively growing up and still to this day, learnt so much from this wizard.
“Absolute honour to train, play and to call you a team mate. Absolute legend, wish you all the luck in the future.”
Baroness Campbell, director of women’s football at The FA, said: “Karen will be regarded as one of English football’s great names.
“Her humility despite all she has achieved on the world stage is one of many endearing qualities. She has played a huge part in the Lionesses’ incredible progress on the pitch and the inspirational impact the squad has had off it.
“I know Karen will be much missed by everyone at Chelsea and England – but I am certain she will stay in the game as she has so much to offer.
“She will always be welcome at Wembley and St. George’s Park and it is right and proper that the FA mark Karen’s wonderful career in a fitting way in the months to come. We are all so very proud of her.”