Casey Stoney playing for Team GB at London 2012.

How Casey Stoney became a legend of women's football

From signing for Chelsea Ladies aged 12, to becoming the new head coach of Manchester United Women, Casey Stoney has overseen a sea-change in women’s football.

A captain of the England women’s team, Stoney became the fifth player to make over 100 appearances for the Lionesses, making a total of 130 before retiring. Stoney played an integral part in the Lionesses's rise up the world rankings, with a third-placed finish in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup one of the highlights.

Stoney represented Arsenal, Charlton, Chelsea, Lincoln Ladies and Liverpool in a club career that spanned 20 years, before retiring in 2018 to become a coach.

Born in Basildon, Stoney was signed for Chelsea’s women’s team in 1994, aged just 12. Having risen through the youth ranks with the Blues, the defender left the club in 1999 to join fellow London club, Arsenal.

Stoney’s talent at club level was immediately noticed and she made her senior debut for the England national team against France in 2000, aged just 18.

Having played every single game during the 2000/2001 season, when Arsenal won the Treble, Stoney felt it was time for a new challenge. After three successful seasons with the Gunners, she signed for Charlton in the summer of 2002.

Behind the scenes of Casey's first dayVideo

The defender had a successful first season at the Addicks, captaining the women’s side to their first FA Women’s Cup final, where they were defeated by her former club, Arsenal. Silverware did soon follow though, with Charlton winning the Premier League Cup in 2004, followed by the FA Women’s Cup in 2005. In the league, the Addicks pushed for the Women’s Premier League title, finishing second in 2004 and 2005 before consecutive third-placed finishes in 2006 and 2007.

During this period, Stoney received her first start for the Lionesses against Norway in 2002 and scored her first international goal against Portugal in 2005. While she was an unused substitute for the European Champions that same year, Stoney became a key member of the squad that qualified for the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup – England’s first appearance on the world stage for 12 years.

The Lionesses finished in second place in the group stage, before being defeated in a difficult last-16 tie against the United States. Stoney was one of four players to feature in every minute in the tournament.

Following Charlton’s relegation from the Premier League in 2007, the women’s team was disbanded as part of a series of cutbacks. This resulted in Stoney re-signing for her childhood club, Chelsea, along with fellow England internationals Eniola Aluko and Siobhan Chamberlain. They were joined by American World Cup winner, Lorrie Fair.

While the Blues had the talent, the trophies did not arrive and after a fifth-placed finish in 2008 and a title challenge failing to materialise in 2009, manager Steve Jones departed. Stoney became player/manager for the rest of the campaign which ended with a third-placed finish, behind Everton and the champions, Arsenal. Whilst at Chelsea, Stoney also won the FA International Player of the Year award in 2008.

England again qualified for the 2009 European Championships, where Stoney played at left-back. Despite a suspension in the group stage, she returned and helped the Lionesses reach the Final, where they earned a silver medal.

With the formation of the Women’s Super League in 2011, Stoney decided to leave Chelsea and joined Lincoln City due to the opportunity of training full-time. In her three seasons with the Imps, the defender made 38 league appearances in which she scored one goal and was a WSL Cup runner-up in 2013, where Lincoln lost 2-0 to Arsenal.

Stoney captained the Lionesses to the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup quarter-finals in Germany. Now in central defence, she featured in every match, as England beat the eventual world champions, Japan, before a penalty-shootout defeat to France.

With the 2012 Olympic Games being held in London, an 18-player women’s team was put together, which Stoney was awarded the captaincy for. The defender led Team GB to the quarter-finals of the competition, scoring in the second group stage match against Cameroon and featured in a memorable 1-0 victory against Brazil in front of over 72,000 fans at Wembley Stadium.

'We can change women’s football forever'Video

Twelve years after she originally left Arsenal, Stoney left Lincoln City and re-signed for the Gunners in 2014, citing her desire to win trophies. This was duly delivered with Arsenal winning the FA Women’s Cup in 2014 and 2016, with a 2015 WSL Cup victory sandwiched in-between.

During Stoney’s time at Arsenal, the Lionesses reached the semi-finals of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada. Despite coming close to the final, England won their third-placed play-off against Germany. Stoney was also part of England’s squad that reached the semi-finals of the European Championships in 2017.

While Stoney was with the England squad in Canada in 2015, she received an MBE for services to football, highlighting how far the women’s game has progressed in England.

After two WSL seasons with Liverpool, Stoney announced her retirement from football and her foray into coaching in February 2018. She joined Phil Neville’s coaching setup with England as the Lionesses attempt to qualify for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Stoney is no stranger to coaching, having educated the next generation of female footballers since she was 17. Stoney worked at the David Beckham Academy for two years and has coached at a number of WSL clubs including Chelsea Ladies’ U18 academy, Lincoln City U17s and Arsenal Centre of Excellence U12s. She also served as the academy assistant coach at Charlton Athletic.

With 130 appearances at international level and a playing career that spans nearly twenty years, not to mention a wealth of coaching experience, Stoney heads into her Manchester United Women tenure with plenty of experience that will no doubt stand her in good stead.

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