Karen Carney: Birmingham City Hall of Fame honour a big step

Karen Carney
Karen Carney took centre stage at Birmingham City's Championship match against Huddersfield and was the cover feature for the club's matchday programme

England striker Karen Carney says becoming the first woman inducted into Birmingham City's Hall of Fame was a momentous occasion for the game.

The 27-year-old, who is the youngest England international of either sex to earn 100 caps, was added to the Hall of Fame before Birmingham's draw with Huddersfield on Saturday.

"I'm thrilled and honoured," Carney told BBC WM 95.6.

"For me personally and women's football this is a big step."

"It is a bit surreal for me because I have been a lifelong Birmingham fan, so to be inducted into the Hall of Fame is a massive honour.

"All my family are Blues fans and they are thrilled and proud."

Carney recalled the first time she took centre stage at St Andrew's when she was a team mascot at the age of eight.

The photo she had taken with former Blues striker Steve Claridge remains a treasured possession.

"I was just a massive Blues fan, anyone that wore the shirt was my hero," she said.

Karen Carney (l) as a youngster with forming Birmingham City player Steve Claridge
Karen Carney (l) regards former Birmingham City strike Steve Claridge one of her heroes, but says she has never worn her socks as low as he did

It was that early brush with one of her sporting idols that helped inspire her in a career that now sees her shirt adorn the wall in the club's International Suite, with her name alongside Birmingham greats, Trevor Francis, Kenny Burns and Christophe Dugarry.

"They are legends, I don't even put myself in that bracket which is bizarre - I'm still taken away by it and it hasn't sunk in," added Carney, who made her senior Birmingham City debut aged 14 and helped them win the FA Women's Cup in 2012.

Having earned her 100th cap in front of a crowd of 45,619 at Wembley in November, Carney believes the women's game in England is being embraced like never before.

"It's crazy how far the women's game has developed and how accepting people have been over the last 10 years. People have really taken it on board and given women's football a fair chance.

"It is different to the men and everyone has accepted that, but it can still be loved, and it is still football - there is nothing different, there is still lot of passion and excitement there. It is nice that women's football is being acknowledged in that respect."

Karen Carney at a glance
Born: Solihull, on 1 August 1987Clubs: Birmingham City, Arsenal and MLS side Chicago Red Stars
England debut: v Italy (2005)England caps: 100
WSL top goalscorer: 2014 with eight goals

For all the reminiscing at St Andrew's, Carney is focused on the upcoming Women's Super League season and her quest for another crowning moment with Birmingham Ladies.

She missed a crucial penalty in a 2-2 draw against Notts County as Blues missed the chance the clinch the title in a dramatic end to last season.

"What would top it for me is winning something with the club domestically - a cup like we did in 2012," she added. "To do something like that would be icing on the cake."

Birmingham begin their campaign with an FA Cup fifth-round home tie against WSL1 champions Liverpool on Sunday, 22 March, with their league opener at Solihull Moors a week later against Manchester City.

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