Interview

‘I’ve dreamed about this since I was a mascot!’

It’s a moment that she has dreamed about her entire life, and when it came she couldn’t help but cry.

When Leah Williamson found out that she had been called up to the England senior team emotion overwhelmed her, but now she is focused on taking her chance and making it count.

We caught up with Leah soon after the news broke and here is what she had to say:

on what it means to be called up by England…
I think it’s just everybody’s dream isn’t it. It’s got to be everybody’s first major goal from the minute that they first kick a football. I don’t know anybody that doesn’t want to play for their country, so it’s a huge honour and I’m very proud. It’s a bit surreal at the moment, but I’m sure once I link up with the team it will feel more real.

on whether she was nervous or excited when she found out…
I actually had a little cry really quickly for about five seconds, but I’m glad I felt that way because obviously it’s nice to know that it means as much as you always thought it would. I’m just very proud, I love my country and representing my country, so getting closer to that is just part of the dream. I mainly feel pride, but a little bit of excitement in there as well along with some nerves, because you just want to stay there once you get there.

on her family’s reaction…
It takes a lot to get to the stage where I am now in football and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my parents or my family, so it’s almost a reward for them as well, which is nice to be able to that and say that it has all paid off.

Leah has captained her country at various age groups

on how she found out about the call up…
Dan Carter text me actually. I didn’t even understand what she said, they were just random words and loads of emojis, so I had no idea. I was a bit confused, and then got a couple more texts through on my phone, one from my best mate who also got called up, so I thought that I better check my emails. I rang my mum straight away obviously, she’d be mad with me if I didn’t. I then got the call from the manager and she just told me that it was a good time to join the squad. I’ve had some previous experience with this manager, so she knows a bit about me, about who I am and what I’m about, so she just told me that there’s no pressure and to just enjoy it. She said that I deserved it, so just to play like I have been doing.

on going from a mascot to an England international…
It’s unbelievable and kind of surreal, I’m trying not to think about it too much. I’ve waited 20 years for this and dreamed about it since I was just a mascot, hoping to achieve this, so I’m just really privileged. From being just a fan to possibly representing them is the thing that sticks out for me, as I’m genuinely a fan and I love this country. Whether I’m involved or not, I always want us to win, so to be involved is a dream come true.

on whether she feels like it’s been a long time coming…
I was called up to the squad when I was 17 to the pre-World Cup camp and unfortunately I got injured. I’m only 20 and just to make the squad at this age is quite special and hopefully the first of many, so yes to get into it any younger than this would have been quite remarkable considering all the talent in this country right now, so I’m just glad to be in it now.

on what her teammates have said…
I got some messages from the girls in the England squad that play for Arsenal, which was nice. I know a lot of the girls anyway, so hopefully I’ll be able to sit in, in that sense and I’m sure they’ll be there for me to point me in the right direction.

In 2015, Leah booked England under-19s their spot at the European Championships, converting an unconventional retaken penalty

on whether she may want to be a captain down the line…
I mean, that the only thing better than playing for your country is captaining your country and I’ve obviously shown traits in the past that have appealed to managers. They seemed to have believed in me in terms of being a leader, but it’s definitely not something that’s on my mind right now, I just want to play football and hopefully fit right in.

on whether it will help with her club football…
I think it has to help. Every day with England will push me as a player and hopefully I’ll be learning all the time, picking up as much information as I possibly can. I’d definitely put that into my game at Arsenal.

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