Manchester City’s goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck has credited watching the Lionesses at Wembley as a 15-year-old in 2014 with giving her the belief that a career in football was possible.
Speaking before England’s showpiece sold-out friendly against Germany, Roebuck said: “I went to the last England v Germany game as a fan. That was an unbelievable occasion. It was probably one of my first memories of thinking: ‘Wow, you could actually probably do something in the women’s game now.’”
England lost 3-0 that day but the impact was profound. “I think it was just going to a women’s game,” Roebuck said. “I’ve always been quite a big fan of men’s football growing up. I support Sheffield United so growing up I was always at their games, but I think to actually have that perception change in my head, to see that many people at a women’s football match, and this could be something special to be a part of growing up, was unbelievable.
“I think at that age I was very unsure of what was next in women’s football and obviously now being able to be professional and do it as a job is incredible.”
It gave her a “mentality switch”, a belief that if she were to focus there was something there to work towards.
“It was about 45,000 in 2014,” the 20-year-old says of the crowd that day. “To think where it could go in the next four or five years is also a scary thought, but I think to go from 45k, which I personally was gobsmacked at, to then be a part of the team where there’s going to be hopefully 90,000 people at Wembley, I think will just be a great feeling for everyone. I think that’s kind of deserved for everyone involved for women’s football.”
With England having struggled in recent friendlies, going five games without a win before a victory in Portugal in October, the pressure is on, but the players are apparently not feeling the heat.
“We know that the results haven’t gone the way that we wanted them to go,” said Roebuck. “I don’t think that is necessarily a sign of us not working hard enough. I feel like we are doing everything right. Getting the win against Portugal hopefully can create some momentum going into this game. England v Germany, what better way to try and get the win and in front of all those people? It will be a great way to go into the Christmas break and push on for the next year.”
Would a win silence the doubters? “Potentially. I guess we kind of try not to focus on outside perception whether we are winning or we are losing. We know internally that we are in a good place; we have trust in everything that we are doing. So from that point of view I feel like we are in a good place – we just need to put the numbers on the board and get the scores to reflect that.”
With criticism of the performance in Portugal rife, regardless of the win, Roebuck says that although performance matters greatly and that it is important to play “the England style” and to keep that progressing, “we’re a football team and we want to win”.
Though Roebuck is young, her form at City, while vying for the No 1 shirt with a currently injured Karen Bardsley, means she is a real contender for an England place. With in-form Mary Earps of Manchester United and the experienced Carly Telford also in the mix she is unlikely to start, but remains patient.
“I would never come into a camp expecting to play,” she said. “We are now in a really fortunate position where you wouldn’t necessarily notice if somebody is in or out, because the depth that we have in every position is unbelievable.”
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