Twenty years ago, England’s Jessica Carter became the first and only woman to take the knee in the Premier League

Long serving England goalkeeper speaks about why she did it after footballer talks about it for first time in recent history

Twenty years ago, Jessica Carter became the first and only woman to take the knee in the Premier League. On Friday, she addressed her controversial protest on Match of the Day, her latest contribution to football history. The Chelsea goalkeeper, now 35, described the experience of receiving a booking for removing her headband in protest.

“I’ve been a bit thrown together,” she said. “It’s definitely something I regret, but I did it, and it’s something I won’t let go. I think it’s an important thing to do if you have the power to do so. That’s all there is to it. It’s just like a jersey, and a team badge. It’s there to represent who you are, and what you stand for. If it happened in the village when I was growing up, and I was having a football without my headband and with my armband on, and I got a yellow card, you just got penalised. Nowadays there’s far more leniency. These sort of things have happened in the past but not in modern times.”

Following her release, Eriksson, then a 20-year-old England left-back, became a figurehead of the wider protest. Her stance remains a source of intrigue. Until now she has spoken only vaguely about taking the knee as a tribute to the friend Darryl Strawberry, a drug user who died of a drug overdose in 2000. “He was one of the sportsmen that really helped me in my life. It was important for me to be there,” Eriksson said. “It wasn’t a political protest, it was simply me paying my respects to a friend who had been doing things that were really, really serious. It was important for me to sit and reflect on that. I felt that I wanted to take that into my playing career. It was very important to me as a friend, so I thought it was important to keep talking about it.”

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