I’ll never forget my first England call up – how proud I was. It was playing away in Germany and I remember getting the call and running to tell my mum and dad. I was 17 and it meant everything. I am immensely proud every time I put on the shirt to know that I am representing my country and give my all each time I play.
It was amazing making my debut, but being made captain topped everything. I still remember the conversations. I couldn’t believe it. It was everything I’d dreamed about.
I love playing at Manchester City. The opportunity for me to improve as player is what attracted me to the club. We have full time training, coaching, strength conditioning, top class facilities and play in our own stadium.
When I joined, the World Cup was on the horizon and I wanted to improve myself even more and City gave me the opportunity to do that as a player and a person.
I know how fortunate I am to be able to be a professional footballer. I always hoped that football would become a full-time job, so it was a dream come true when it happened.
When central contracts were introduced in 2009, that’s when I first thought that I could make a living out of football. I was more motivated by people willing to fund what I love doing.
I come from a sporty family. My dad played semi-professionally and as soon as I could walk I had a ball at my feet. I’d kick the ball in the yard and play with my mates as often as possible.
I played all sports, but football really stood out for me. My parents recognized that and encouraged me to play. They would take me to a soccer camp at Sunderland FC during the school holidays and I loved it – two days of playing football for 5 hours.
That was the first time I got scouted. At that time there was no Centre of Excellence, so at 9 years old I trained with the under 16’s.
I was playing in mixed school teams, played for my local amateur football team and for Sunderland on the weekend. My parents took me everywhere and made sure I had the opportunity to play. They took me to matches, trials and to training on wet and windy Wednesdays. I know I wouldn’t be anywhere without their support.
My goal is to become one of the best centre-halves in the world and play for club and country on a consistent basis.
Longer term, I’d like to leave a legacy so it’s easier for young girls to get into football at the grass roots. I believe that it’s up to me to inspire the next generation to want to play football and encourage them to live their dreams.