Casey Stoney remains focused ahead of reunion with mentor

Sunday 20 Sep 2015
Casey Stoney (right) has earned 122 caps since making her debut in 2000

On Monday afternoon England defender Casey Stoney will come up against a manager she regards as a father figure.

The 33-year-old and her Lionesses team-mates are in Tallinn preparing to take on Estonia in their opening Euro 2017 qualifier.

Although England’s opponents are the lowest ranked team in Group 7, they have improved dramatically under the stewardship of Keith Boanas, who was Stoney’s former boss at Charlton Athletic – and he is a man she respects greatly.

Estonia v England

UEFA Women's Euro 2017
Group 7
5pm BST, Monday 21 September
A. Le Coq Arena, Tallinn

“He’s been almost like a father figure to me, a mentor,” Stoney said of Boanas. “He’s had a massive impact on my career.

“There was a time when I didn’t want to play international football anymore and he was the one who really believed in me. He said to me in 2005, ‘right now you feel awful but I believe you’ll be England captain one day.’

“At the time I couldn’t believe him, but it came true. He cared for me as a person as well as a footballer. He’s been a great tower of strength for me in dark times, but in the good times too.

“I’ve got so much respect for him, he’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever worked with and I hope he’ll be a mentor for me when I start coaching.”

She continued: “He wanted us to do well in the World Cup and [before it] he texted me saying ‘wouldn’t it be great if we were playing the world champions in September?’. 

"Unfortunately that didn’t happen, but they’re playing the World Cup bronze medallists and it’s a great challenge for his team.

“He’s changed women’s football in Estonia forever. I’m sure he’s proud of what he’s done and he’ll relish the challenge, but we are too – it’s a new challenge for us and we’re looking forward to it.”

Stoney is not the only England player to have played under Boanas. Eniola Aluko and Jo Potter also benefited from his wisdom during their time with the Addicks.

Keith Boanas

Keith Boanas led Charlton to The FA Women's Cup in 2005

Boanas enjoyed success at Charlton, guiding them to FA Women’s Cup glory in 2005, when Aluko scored in The Final, and to two FA Women’s Premier League Cups, in 2004 and 2006.

His success on the sidelines means Stoney is expecting Estonia to be well-drilled on Monday – and she has urged her team-mates to not be the victims of a major upset.

She said: “Every game in this group is a potential banana skin if you don’t prepare right. If you don’t get the mental side of your game right you can come unstuck.

“I know that Keith is relishing the challenge and he’ll have his players up for it. They’ll be organised. 

“We want to continue the form we showed in the World Cup”

Casey Stoney 

“We want to make sure we win this group in a way that we can send out a message. We want to continue the form we showed in the World Cup.

“It seems like a long time since the World Cup and we just want to get back on the pitch and playing again.”

The former England skipper, who has appeared at three World Cups and two European Championships, then went on to pour cold water on suggestions she is contemplating hanging up her boots.

She said: “I don’t want to retire.

“I want to retire having won something and I believe in 2017 we’ve got the best opportunity we’ve ever had to do that.”

By Glenn Lavery in Tallinn, Estonia