By Joe Brewin
Rachel Yankey admits the prospect of breaking the England Ladies international caps record had never crossed her mind.
The experienced midfielder is just one cap away from Gillian Coulthard’s long-standing record of 119 and could draw level with an appearance against Slovenia on Thursday.
Yankey scored the winner in England's crucial 1-0 victory over the Holland at the Salford City Stadium on Sunday and the Arsenal star admits the prospect of writing her own chapter in history is a real honour.
“It is really nice,” she told Arsenal.com. “It's not something I ever really thought about when I was a kid simply because I didn't have that many caps for England. Hopefully I can play some part in the final game and it will be nice to equal her record.
“I remember Gill when she played and she was ending her career as I was starting. She was always a good defender who was difficult to beat.”
Yankey made a goalscoring England debut 15 years ago in a 4-0 friendly victory over Scotland and could now amass Coulthard’s total in four years fewer.
But while Yankey’s cap haul may make her the most experienced player in the current set-up, the 32-year-old does not necessarily see herself as a role model.
“For the younger members of the squad now it is totally different to when I started,” she said. “I came into the team with no international experience but the younger players now have all played Under-17s or Under-15s so they are used to coming into an England squad and how it is done in tournament. They more or less take it in their stride to be honest, they are better prepared than we were.
“I want to be approachable if people want to talk to me and ask me for advice. But I think I am just the same as any other player in the squad. Obviously I have played more games but I still want to learn.
“If other players have got opinions on the pitch they want to tell me, I still want to learn and I don't really see myself as any different to everybody else.
“It probably means a little bit more [to pull on the shirt] to be honest. When I first started I was just a kid who didn't really know what was going on, I just wanted to play football. As you get older there are more nerves and you can really appreciate what the game means. You understand the consequences of losing.”Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source