Arsenal Women

'I lead the way for myself'

Over the past 12 months Leah Williamson has risen in stature to become a mainstay of Pedro Martinez Losa's side.

The 20-year-old has played in defence and midfield in recent months and despite a first senior England cap not yet being forthcoming, admits she is relishing her increased responsibility in north London.

Here's what Leah said to Arsenal Player:

on increasingly becoming a focal point…
Definitely. I think in my breakthrough season I played in every game I was available for almost, maybe I missed one or two. But as a new player coming in there’s always jut a bit of a buzz and you get away with things just because you’re the newbie and the young one. But now, I really want to take on that responsibility of being the star and being a star player and keeping my place in that team now. It’s about being consistent and I’ve got high standards of myself. Playing for Arsenal first team requires those high stands.

on whether it’s easy to embrace responsibility…
To be quite honest I’ve always said to myself that I perform under pressure. You don’t feel like it before the 90 minutes but during and after it definitely keeps me on top of my game and keeps me concentrated. Taking on that responsibility and pressure in my new role, especially as a defender, can only be good for me and hopefully that’ll show in my performances.

on whether she’s naturally a responsible character…
Responsibility and leadership have always sort of come hand in hand to me and I can’t really drop either or. I’ve been the newbie in the squad and tried to just sit back and not be heard and not lead the way in the way that I can. But it just doesn’t work. It’s innate in me. It can be a really valuable quality in a team like this when we have so many people that can take the lead. I lead the way for myself. I set the standards for myself. If people follow, if people agree with that, that’s great. But we’re not short of leadership in this team. Whatever I can offer, I can’t sort of stay quiet. Whatever I can offer, whatever comes out of me on the pitch, off the pitch or in life, I can’t hide from the fact that I’m always interested in making sure that I’m on top of my game in that sense. It’s innate in me and I don’t think it’ll ever leave me.

on the importance of holding yourself to high standards…
Massively. I think that’s the difference between being a senior footballer. It’s not just a game anymore. My mum told me for years growing up that it’s just a hobby and it’s not. For a start it’s my living, it’s my job. If you look at it in that sense, you wouldn’t turn up to your job not prepared or not on time. So eating the right things, training in the right way and looking after myself it just all comes hand in hand with the game. Anybody who’s not prepared to live that lifestyle doesn’t really deserve to be here. I think it’s really important to keep pushing and keep developing, as I’m still young I think it’s really important I set those standards or myself. If I can reach them, great, if I can surpass them then unbelievable.

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