England Women's captain Karen Walker has today announced her retirement from int
England Women's captain Karen Walker has today announced her retirement from international football. Walker has decided to end her career on a high after winning the Sky Sports International Player honour at last week's Fifth Annual FA Women's Football Awards...
Walker retires as the record holder for the most number of goals scored by a female England international - with 40 goals in 83 appearances.
After a 17-year long career, Walker proved her critics wrong in the 2001-02 season by regaining a starting place up front for England and taking over as captain.
In September 2002, she scored two vital goals to help England in the World Cup play-off semi-finals against Iceland, but despite battling back from injury she couldn't help England beat France and secure a place at this year's World Cup.
Walker exclusively told TheFA.com the reason behind her decision: "I really enjoyed the World Cup qualifiers and after the France game, I initially felt high on the adrenalin and said I didn't want to retire. But in the weeks after that game, I felt really gutted that we hadn't made it to the World Cup.
"The thought about retirement started creeping into my mind and I wondered whether I would make it to Euro 2005. Without having any competitive games until then - and with Hope obviously wanted to try out new players and new formations in friendlies - I have been finding it hard to motivate myself to train for two hours every day without playing.
"My friends, family and several players have gone mad because I am retiring and that is flattering, but now after telling Hope Powell my decision this morning, I feel as though a weight has been lifted off my shoulders."
Walker, who will be 34 next month, played her last international as a second half substitute in the 0-4 defeat away against Canada in May. It was her third match of the year, after captaining England against Italy in Pisa and against the world champions USA in Canada.
National Coach Hope Powell OBE said: "Karen has been a great ambassador and she is retiring after a great career for England. In recent years she has been a role model for the youngsters coming through and really took to the role as captain. She will be sadly missed in the England camp, but I understand her decision and I think it's the right one for her."
Karen will continue to play club football with Doncaster Belles.