UTD Podcast: 'How the hell am I going to tell Casey?'
In this week’s UTD Podcast episode, we speak to former Manchester United Women’s goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain.
The 37-year-old was a mainstay in our 2018/19 Championship-winning side, playing 27 games in all competitions as Casey Stoney’s Reds secured promotion to the top flight at the end of our inaugural season as a club.
While Siobhan shared her memories of that campaign, one of the most interesting moments of the podcast came when our ex-stopper talked about her pregnancy - she spent the 2019/20 season on the sidelines before giving birth to daughter Emilia in January.
Chamberlain spoke candidly about her feelings and concerns when discovering her happy news, not least how she was going to inform her manager – obviously not something our male players have to concern themselves with.
“I remember when I found out I was pregnant,” Siobhan told us. “After being excited obviously and telling my husband - actually, probably before I told my husband - I thought: how the hell am I going to tell Casey?
“I knew I wanted to have children, that wasn’t a question, but I’d never made a decision when. It’s a difficult situation as a female footballer. You have a short career span and logistically it’s a bit of a nightmare.
“The doctor said to me ‘you need the force of something that’s going to shatter your pelvis to do any damage in the first 12 weeks’. I’m thinking ‘I don’t even want to think about that kind of damage!’ I’ve faced Leah Galton and Lauren James’s shots and they’re probably that kind of force!
“Obviously I was kind of injured anyway so those first few weeks weren’t an issue training wise. I wasn’t training anyway.”
Siobhan’s spell out injured delayed the need for her to tell Stoney, although she would later pick up the phone to the boss before her parents or wider family had been told the news.
Obviously Casey and the rest of the staff were supportive, as were the club, with Siobhan working as part of the media team, as a photographer and MUTV co-commentator, during her time out from the game.
“I remember thinking I needed to have that conversation with Casey,” Chamberlain recalls. “I trusted her completely. She was a really good friend of mine, as well as being my manager.
“It was hard because I was only six or seven weeks pregnant, not very far gone at all. I hadn’t told my parents or family – you don’t tell anyone until you’re 12 weeks or so.
“But I knew that I owed it to her and the team to let her know because – as a goalkeeper especially – if she wanted to bring someone else in, I needed to give her that opportunity.
“I remember being quite emotional and very nervous on that phone call to her. I knew I needn’t have been, because as a friend she’d be happy for me. But I wasn’t sure what her response would have been as a manager.
“But she was great and she said her and the club would support me in every way I needed and the club were great with that.”
After not featuring in the WSL for the Reds, Chamberlain left United in July.
She spent the summer training with another club, but ultimately announced her retirement in September – and isn’t contemplating going back on her decision any time soon.
“My husband will probably say ‘no – you’ve said you’ve retired!’ I don’t know, I don’t want to go back to playing football but not being as good as I know I can be.
“I trained for a while over pre-season this summer, twice a week with a club and they were keen on me signing. But training twice a week wasn’t going to get me to where I knew I should be and wanted to be.
“I don’t want to go back to making mistakes and not be the best I can be, because ultimately you’re only as good as your last game. I don’t want to lose what I had before.
“I’d rather step away having won the Championship, playing in World Cups, playing in European Championships and remember my career for that than coming back and them saying ‘do you remember when she let that one through her hands, on a muddy pitch on a Sunday morning in a game no-one cares about?’
“Although never say never, I suppose!”