BRITAIN’S highest-profile gay footballer feared her England career was over after coming out about her sexuality.
Arsenal Ladies defender Casey Stoney, 32, revealed yesterday how thrilled she is that, instead of being a target for abuse, she receives letters from people who see her as a taboo-breaking inspiration.
After finding herself in the Professional Footballers Association team of the year Stoney is in prime position to be picked for the Canada 2015 World Cup squad by head coach Mark Sampson.
If picked, the experienced international will be making her third World Cup appearance with the England Women’s team she used to captain.
Stoney, who had feared that her international career was slipping away when she lost the captaincy and struggled to get playing time, spoke publicly about being gay for the first time in February 2014.
Despite having made a newspaper’s Pink List in the two years preceding her interview, the formal announcement tested her nerve.
“When I was initially asked to do a piece, I sat down with my family and my partner and, I have to be honest, I was absolutely petrified,” Stoney said.
“I didn’t know what the response would be. I thought it would be negative and it was completely the opposite.”
Stoney has reason to celebrate at home as well as on the pitch — her partner, former Lincoln Ladies player and now stay-at-home mum Megan Harris, gave birth to twins Teddy and Tilly last November.
Quite in contrary to expected hostility, Stoney is now more in demand than ever with organisations and corporations lining up recruit the role model.