Stoney tackles fans' questions
Casey Stoney took over the Manchester United Women Instagram Story recently to answer questions from Reds' fans about her playing career and time in charge so far...
Two stick out in my memory, if I'm honest. Both at Wembley. I was fortunate enough to play in the Olympics (in 2012) there in front of over 72,000 people and lead the team out as captain, which was incredible. The second one was winning the 2016 FA Cup final there (with Arsenal). It's an incredible day in the women's calendar.
Which opposition forward was hardest to play against?
Probably the best in the world, for me. I played against her in club football and played with her for England: Kelly Smith. She had the ability to go by people, she could score goals, great skill, fantastic left foot. A real ability to create space out of nothing and an unbelievable goalscorer. I was privileged to play with her, and unfortunately had to play against her!
Who was your role model growing up?
The sad answer to this is I didn't actually have one, in football. There weren't any female players on the television or in the newspapers. They didn't have the visibility. I knew I loved football and I knew I wanted to play, and it was mainly my family and the people around me who encouraged me to play.
I didn't turn professional until I was 31. Up until that time, I used to train at about 5 or 6am in the morning before I went to work, then 8-10pm two or three times a week for my club, and played at the weekends. It wasn't until there was a little bit more money in the game that I turned professional and could actually dedicate my life to it. Hard work, perseverance, and more hard work.
What sports do you enjoy other than football?
Not many, to be honest! I like tennis. I was a ballgirl at Wimbledon when I was at school, so I enjoy that. I don't mind anything competitive but football is the only sport I really enjoy.
How was the transition from player to manager?
If I'm honest, it's not an easy one. Retiring from playing football is scary, because you lose your identity and you lose what you love. But stepping into management was the only way for me. I've always loved football and I've always coached, since I was 17. I've been a player-manager and I've been a head coach. For me, it was very natural – but that doesn't mean it was easy!
I always say winning, because I love winning and I'm a winner. I try to win at everything I do. I think, rewards wise, emotionally, it's that I get to have a really positive impact on people's lives: players, fans, staff. I get to lead an incredible group of people and try to improve them on and off the pitch, and when you see that happening and you see them developing, there's no better feeling.
How do you decide how the players train at the moment, without any games?
We have management meetings twice a week to discuss players. They've all got individual programmes they're committing to and we've got WhatsApp groups where they report their training. We've got some fun stuff going on in those, too, so we're staying connected mentally as well. It's really important that our players feel connected to us as a club and we're supporting them throughout this period. They're really motivated players, so it's not a problem for us.
What's been your best moment so far as coach of United?
It's quite an easy one for me: when we won the FA Women's Championship. More so to see the smiles on the faces of my players and staff, because I knew how much effort, hard work and dedication they'd put into winning it. They deserved it and it was great. It was an amazing moment to be able to share with them.