Casey Stoney retires: a peek at her illustrious career
Casey Stoney will take to the pitch for the very last time when Liverpool face Sunderland on Wednesday. The 35-year-old former England skipper has decided to end a blistering career which spanned over two decades. Her reward is a spot in Phil Neville's dugout. We look back at her extraordinary journey to the top from the streets of Basildon.
Football wasn't quite a thing in Basildon. Although the Essex town gave birth to some famous entertainers including Carry On actress, Joan Sims, TV presenter Denise Van Outen and singer Alison Moyet, there wasn't corresponding success in the round leather game. Kids with special interest needed to go elsewhere.
So did Stoney. At just 12, she sojourned to west London to train with Chelsea. There, she began her football education, progressing superbly through the youth ranks. Her rapid development alerted a couple of top sides. Arsenal showed more desire and got her in 1999.
At Meadow Park, Stoney further swelled her reputation as a top centre-back. Commanding, rock-solid and tough-tackling, she was the prototype of the modern-day rearguard. Her incredible attributes helped the Gunners claim a domestic double in her second year. Additional league success followed the next. Then Stoney craved for a fresh challenge. She moved to Charlton Athletic.
National team recognition
Phenomenal form at club level saw Stoney handed her first Three Lionesses cap against France in 2000. One year after, she was included in Hope Powell's provisional squad for the European Championship. But ultimately missed the cut. After the tournament, Stoney had spells in the centre, right and left. Powell eventually settled for the last.
Stoney would go on to captain her country, making 130 appearances. She also skippered Team Great Britain at the London 2012 Olympics. She appeared in three World Cups - 2007, 2011 and 2015 - and played at the 2009 and 2013 European Championships, as well as being an unused substitute at the 2005 and 2017 Euros.
Success at Charlton
Stoney enjoyed five productive years with the Addicks. In only her first season, she captained them to a historic FA Women's Cup final. Two years later, they won the domestic double. Charlton waited another two years before adding a third. This time, however, at the expense Stoney's former side, Arsenal. She moved to Chelsea in 2007 after the club was disbanded.
Return to origin
Stoney was back to Kingsmeadow where it all began along with Charlton and England teammate Eniola Aluko. However, their reunion didn't quite go as planned. Three seasons she spent with the Blues with nothing tangible to show. Her next stop was Lincoln.
Lincoln/ Arsenal/ Liverpool
The next seven years marked the final phase of Stoney's illustrious career. She spent two seasons each at Lincoln and Arsenal. Same would have happened with Liverpool, had Neville's offer not arrived too soon. Her last piece of silverware was the FA Cup at Arsenal in 2016.
Stoney leaves the game a legend. She joins Neville's staff ahead of the SheBelieves Cup in the United States next month.