City captain Steph Houghton has paid tribute to the retiring Karen Bardsley, hailing the legendary goalkeeper as an ‘amazing teammate and friend.’

The 37-year-old shot-stopper announced her retirement earlier this week and will hang up her gloves at the end of the 2021/22 season to close a chapter of an illustrious career.

KB was honoured at City’s final home game of the campaign – a 6-0 thrashing of Birmingham. The England star was given a guard of honour and presented with a lifetime Seasoncard, and expressed her gratitude to the fans, staff and teammates with a heartfelt speech.


Houghton also addressed the Academy Stadium, reflecting on the season and her compatriot’s incredible career, highlighting the key role she has played for Club and country.

“I don’t want to get too emotional but we started this journey together,” the skipper said, “and KB has been an unbelievable professional, as well as an amazing teammate and friend.

“She deserves these plaudits. She’s an absolute legend and she should be proud of everything she has achieved. It’s a privilege to be her teammate and we’ve shared some amazing memories.

“Without her, we would not have won the trophies we have won. There’s a reason why she’s regarded as the world’s number one and that’s down to her hard work, dedication and will to win.

“She’s the ultimate professional in the way she has represented this Club and we’re going to miss her.

“I know what she has been through and I know she will be successful after her football career. We wish her luck in whatever she chooses to do next.”

City completed our home campaign with another thumping win – our 12th successive victory, which marked the sixth time in the last seven games we have scored at least four goals.

Our exceptional run since the turn of the year has lifted Gareth Taylor’s side into the Champions League spots with one game to play and Houghton says she could not be more proud of her side’s efforts.

“Since Christmas, it’s been an unbelievable run,” she added. “From a personal point of view, it’s been frustrating [with injuries] but it’s been easier coming here and watching the girls play well with the run we’ve been on.

“It’s been very special to watch and it’s all down to the girls’ hard work behind-the-scenes, putting the performances in week in, week out, and to have had fans back is amazing.

“All players want to play and we want to get into that top three and win another trophy. We’re two games away from that.

“We had a tough start with injuries. It’s important that people know these girls are winners. Even when results were not going our way, we were trying to do the right things and without a doubt, this team plays the best football in the league.

“The results are now coming for us. Thank you to the fans for sticking with us. We’ll do all we can to make sure at the end of the season, we give everybody what we want: a Champions League place and FA Cup at Wembley.”