One of England’s longest-serving players will make her last appearance Saturday.
Karen Carney announced her retirement Friday, on the eve of England’s third-place playoff against Sweden at the Women’s World Cup.
“My mind still wants to do everything and it still can but I don’t think my body can anymore,” said the 31-year-old Carney, who at times had tears in her eyes. “I think you’ve seen the level and the growth of the game, how fantastic it’s become and that’s a credit to everyone.
“My mind would want to continue ’til I was 100 but at some point your body tells you enough is enough and I think I’ve got to that point.”
Carney has three substitute appearances at her fourth World Cup and the Chelsea midfielder could win her 144th cap for England against Sweden in Nice.
She is the second-most capped player for England, behind only Fara Williams who has played 170 times for the Lionesses.
Carney made her first-team debut for Birmingham City at the age of 14 and also played for Arsenal and the Chicago Red Stars.
“The thing I’ll miss most is just kicking a ball,” said Carney, her voice cracking with emotion.
England coach Phil Neville sat next to Carney at the press conference and paid tribute to a player who didn’t even feature in his first few squads.
“I feel incredibly honored that in a short space of time I got to know one of our greatest players but more importantly what an amazing person and that makes me a lucky, lucky manager,” Neville said.
Neville and his players will have to put emotion to one side as they look to pick themselves up from Tuesday’s dramatic 2-1 loss to the United States and secure a second straight bronze medal.
“It’s a great barometer tomorrow for us in terms of the challenge ahead, can we beat teams like Sweden?” Neville said. “They’re well organized, they’ve got a good system, they’ve got fantastic front players. They’re consistently challenging like us to try and get over that line to win tournaments.
“They will probably be hurting like we are in terms of their semifinal. We came up against the No. 1 team in the world and Sweden came up against a team probably on paper they thought we should have won.”
Sweden missed out on the chance to reach a second World Cup final after losing 1-0 after extra time to the Netherlands in the other semifinal Wednesday.
The Swedes lost to Germany in 2003 and also won two bronze medals – in 1991 and 2011.
“We’re going to regroup, recover and focus on Saturday and make sure we leave this place with a medal,” Sweden defender Magdalena Eriksson said. “Going for it on Saturday is going to be massive and important for us, and I feel we have a good chance of beating England. That’s the goal from now on.”
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