Former Chelsea and England midfielder Karen Carney, who retired after helping the Lionesses reach the World Cup semi-finals this summer, will be writing columns for the BBC Sport website, working on Radio 5 Live and featuring on BBC TV this season.
I gave so much to the sport and now I just want some time for me.
It’s worrying when you come out of professional sport. It’s all you’ve ever known and all you’ve ever done. You have to get used to not going into the training ground and being peppered by people every single minute of every single day. It’s quite daunting.
But I’m enjoying the space and in the next few years I’d like to set up my own business in management consultancy. I have a degree in sports science and a masters in psychology. I want to link that all into the business world. I’m enjoying the media work too but I want to venture out and do something of my own in the near future.
I might have been so busy I haven’t had time to reflect on my retirement but I actually think I’m over it. There have been a few times this week when I have been out running and it’s hit me. I miss the game, the big games. I thought ‘I haven’t achieved what I wanted to achieve’ but then I got home and my knees hurt – I was over it! I just didn’t have the motivation to keep going any more.
I’m excited by other challenges. There’s a lot more to life – it was one of the best jobs in the world and I was privileged to be able to do it – but there’s much more to me than being a footballer.
I raced home to watch the end of England’s friendly against Belgium and I was surprised at how excited and emotional I was while watching it. I want them to do well, I always will. It’s a new cycle and they have made some changes so I’m interested to see how they get on. At no point did I think ‘I could have come on there and done this’. I was just watching as a fan.
Other teams have to believe Lyon are not invincible
The Women’s Champions League starts again this week and Lyon have to be favourites because they have won it for the last four years.
The only thing that could go against Lyon is complacency because they have won it so much. Sometimes it’s hard to find the extra motivation and they could let it slip but I think they are too good. The new manager can take them to another level too.
It’s often a mentality thing. Last season at Chelsea, had we believed we could do it, things might have been different. We only started to believe after the first leg of our semi-final defeat by Lyon and that was too late. We challenged them though and we were getting closer.
It’s up to the other teams around Europe to start believing it now. It’s whether they took note and thought ‘actually, Lyon are not as invincible as everyone thinks’. There are weaknesses to explore – every team has them.
But Lyon are that good that they will always have an answer so that’s why they are ranked number one. It’s theirs to lose as usual but there could be a few surprises that might push them.
Arsenal could be the team to cause an upset
Arsenal manager Joe Montemurro has got them working hard and they have a really good squad. If their run in the Champions League is good, they can cause some upsets. They have invested so much money into their team.
There are three types of footballers – an international player, a Champions League player and a league player. They all have different attributes and different styles. Arsenal have gone for a lot of European players which will suit them in the Champions League. You need those ball carriers and set-piece specialists at key moments because they are the types of players who can win Champions League games.
They also have a few Dutch players who have enjoyed success on the international stage. They reached the World Cup final and won the Euros. It’s no fluke. Those players know what it takes. Having that experience and knowledge is key. They won’t be afraid of big moments and will be big-game players.
Manchester City are always good too. I watched their pre-season game against Atletico Madrid in the US, they were structured, organised, physical and really fit.
Obviously they will miss Ellen White while she’s injured but when she comes back that will give them another impetus. They are hard to beat, hard to break down and are well regimented. They may look to use counter-attacking football in Europe. I still think they are a couple of players off but their experience will do them well in this competition.
As for Barcelona, they were heavily beaten in last year’s final and they were probably a bit naive. There is a big gap between the best and them. Their style doesn’t suit the Champions League just yet as it’s quite slow. I think they have to increase their intensity and go up another level. They need to counter-attack quickly and have more pace. They can keep the ball for fun so if they can add the intensity, they are on to something.
Champions League football is a project-based competition for any team. It takes a long time to build a team that has experience, quality and a style that can win you this prestigious title.
Karen Carney was speaking to BBC Sport’s Emma Sanders.