The Arsenal Ladies captain and member of the England squad for the UEFA Women’s EURO 2017 championships, 32, talks about life on the pitch
‘I joined Arsenal Ladies football club at the age of eight. I used to play football in my local neighbourhood with my brother and the other boys and that’s when I was spotted. I’d go to school in the day, then train after that, four or five times a week.
‘Now, I start the day around 7am with a protein shake, then head into Arsenal Training Centre near St Albans in Hertfordshire. We can grab a tea or coffee before training begins – the team will then gather for a meeting to discuss the training session ahead. We’ll always have a pre-activation session, which is all about getting the muscle groups warmed up and we do this as a team. Conditioning comes next. We’ll wear heart-rate monitors to check how much we’re working in the red [high-intensity] zone – during different training sessions, we might have to hit different zones for a certain amount of time. On other days, our training might have more of a focus on drills, such as passing skills or game tactics.
‘We’ll have lunch as a team and this is served at the training ground. All our food is prepared to help us recover and replenish. It might be chicken, salad and soup with potatoes or rice. We’ll hit the gym afterwards, but every player has her own individual gym programme. This will also vary throughout the year and season. At the moment I’m doing squats, Romanian deadlifts for glute and hamstring strength, hip thrusters, box jumps, core exercises and bench lifts. Whether we’re in a strength phase or power phase will determine the sequence and drills we’re given.
‘After that, we need to make sure there’s plenty of recovery, so I’ll grab another protein shake before it’s time to relax. I’ll walk the dog and have dinner, which is normally something like salmon and salad. I play the guitar and am trying to learn Spanish, so that’s also my down time. Then we do it all again the next day, seven days a week. Sometimes our manager will allow us a day off to recover, but that’s his call if he feels the team needs it. Over the last couple of years, I’ve also been working with the BBC, presenting on The Premier League Show with Gabby Logan, London Live, Soccer AM and Premier League Productions’ FanZone.
‘I did my degree in 2012 in professional sports writing and broadcasting and graduated just before the World Cup, so TV has been a natural progression over the last few years. Women footballers are usually pushed into coaching or to become managers but that doesn’t interest me. I’ve been around the sport my whole life so I want to stay involved and this path opened up. It allows me to engage in conversations and bring out the different personalities of the players on camera. Eventually, I’d like to do more presenting work – at 32 I’m in the latter years of my career so we’ll see what happens. For now, I’ll be focusing on the Euros.’
Catch WEURO 17 England v Portugal this Thursday July 27 at 19:45. Join the conversation using #Lionesses and for more info, visit thefa.com/England