Saturday 06 July 2019, 18:58

Carney: We need to have fire in our belly

  • Karen Carney has retired from football

  • Midfielder says England "need to have something to push on for"

  • 144-capped Carney talks about what's next for her

By Laure James with England [[flag-eng-s]]

Karen Carney has bowed out of football with 144 international caps, after coming on in the second half as the Lionesses tried to hunt down an equaliser, yet despite a furtive charge, Sweden took to the podium for bronze after a 2-1 win.

Rather unexpectedly, Carney admitted she was glad to have suffered defeat at the hands of Sweden, because in her view, it will propel England to strive for better.

Peter Gerhardsson’s troops managed to withstand England’s efforts in the frenetic closing stages, highlighted by Nilla Fischer’s dramatic goal-line clearance to deny Lucy Bronze from pushing this pulsating play-off to extra time.

While Phil Neville applauded his team for showing qualities in the second half which he claimed never to have seen in his players before, Carney wants to see the Lionesses now go from strength to strength, from the comfort of her retirement.

“It was tough, we gave it everything but part of me is glad we lost,” Carney said, while talking with the BBC. “I don’t mean to sound disrespectful at all but I think if we had won that, we would have celebrated it. But if we really want to go to the Olympics and really want to go to the home EURO and win it, we need to have fire in our belly, and disappointment, and have something to push on for.

"That isn’t to be disrespectful to Sweden, they played very well and they beat us, but part of me thinks I’m glad because we have to push on, we have to dig deeper and we shouldn’t be afraid to say that.”

Carney now closes the book on a glittering career for England, and her fourth World Cup which, despite not having had as much game time as she would have liked, carried an enormous influence in the team on and off the pitch.

As one of the country’s most gifted and most-capped players, she also has a serenity about her, known for a gentle, caring approach with her team-mates and all who encounter her. Some years ago, she made the brave decision to discuss her battle with depression, while the modest character is among the loudest cheerleading for the next generation. But what’s next for the ‘Wizard’?

“I have no idea, I’ve something in the pipeline and I’d like to stay in football in some capacity,” Carney said. “I moved away from home when I was 16 and I haven’t stopped, so a little break would be nice, to spend some time with my loved ones. As an athlete you have to be selfish, and you don’t mean to be, but you have to be really, really driven. You make it all about you, and now it’s time to give something back to them."

Karen Carney of England poses for a portrait