Carli Lloyd insists she has had no problems adjusting to retirement but the two-time FIFA player of the year is looking forward to dusting off her boots to play in Soccer Aid this summer.
The American, twice an Olympic champion and twice a World Cup winner, brought an end to her illustrious career last year after playing in her fourth Olympics in Tokyo.
But the 39-year-old, whose career included a brief stint with Manchester City – and an FA Cup win – in 2017, will be back in England to play at the London Stadium on June 12.
Lloyd’s career spanned more than two decades, during which time she collected 316 caps for the United States, but she said being able to go out on her own terms has made the move into retirement easy.
“For me to be able to dictate when I wanted to leave the sport, retire in the fashion I did, I don’t think many athletes get to do that,” Lloyd told the PA news agency. “I’m so very grateful it was on my own terms and my own timeline.
“I was ready to move on. I’d put so many things on hold so to be able to have this second life and a new beginning, to do all the things I didn’t do and spend more time with my husband, family and friends, it’s been amazing.”
Lloyd admitted there was a part of her that missed the relentless pursuit of success and said nothing could ever replicate collecting Olympic gold medals or lifting the World Cup trophy, but there were also elements of her playing career she was happy to leave behind.
“Over time it gets a little tiring to constantly prove people wrong,” she said. “I feel like for 17 years I had to prove everybody wrong all the time. Even though I had some success, people still wanted to just drag you down again.
“It was all part of my journey but to not have the everyday pressure – I loved the pressure and thrived off the pressure – but it’s nice to feel a bit free. Internally I still strive to be the best at whatever I’m in pursuit of but I don’t have any external pressures I need to worry about.”
Soccer Aid will bring Lloyd back to England, where she spent a few months on loan with Manchester City to play the Women’s Super League Spring Series in 2017, also scoring in the final as City lifted the FA Women’s Cup, and helping them reach the semi-finals of the Champions League.
Lloyd admitted she would have loved to have returned for a second stint, but the shift in the Women’s Super League season to the winter clashed with her commitments in the United States, so it was left as a short but sweet spell in her career.
“The football – I’ll use that word – is a way different culture,” she said. “I played soccer from the age of five but (in England) there’s a different mindset. It was great to get to connect with so many people, I got to meet Pep Guardiola and the facilities at Manchester City were unbelievable.
“It was such a great opportunity to be able to go over and play for that team.”
:: Soccer Aid for UNICEF 2022 takes place on Sunday 12th June at the London Stadium. A family of four can attend the game for just £60 – buy your tickets at socceraid.org.uk/tickets
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