On Sunday 24 January, Steph Houghton once again made history. Her performance against Brighton made the defender the first player to reach the milestone of 150 Women’s Super League appearances.
The match was an almost perfect tribute to one of the women’s games longest serving players. A convincing win and two goals made the fixture one to remember.
From the beginning
Houghton has been a key part of the WSL for the past 11 years – long enough that several of her Manchester City teammates were still in primary school the first time she pulled on her Arsenal shirt.
The defender initially signed from Leeds United in 2010 when the league was first created, signing for the Gunners in August. During her time with Arsenal, the club won the inaugural season’s league title. Houghton eventually became the Arsenal captain and led the team to the Continental Cup and FA Cup.Embed from Getty Images
For a defender, Houghton has a fair tally of goals across her WSL career, whilst also boasting an excellent defensive record. Over the years, Houghton has become known as a free-kick specialist. Her talent for firing free-kicks in from seemingly impossible angles has proved to be one of her greatest assets.
It was during her time at Arsenal that Houghton really established herself as a leader and role model of the game both on and off the pitch.
A new start
In 2014, Houghton marked the new year by signing a contract at Manchester City. The team was considered little more than an ambitious project.
The defender became Man City captain and in her first season, she led the team to winning the Conti Cup. As a natural leader, Steph Houghton has captured everyone she encounters. From Carli Lloyd, to City’s newest USWNT signings, to the club’s academy graduates who idolise her.Embed from Getty Images
Over the past seven years, Houghton has made an undeniable impact on Manchester City. Becoming a global role model and arguably one of the faces of the WSL, Houghton has been a pivotal part of the growth of the league.
When the centre-back signed for Arsenal, women’s football was almost unknown and there were no real stars in England. Over her 150 appearances, the league has changed almost beyond recognition, now it’s regarded as one of the best in the world.
Often nicknamed ‘Captain Fantastic’ by City and England fans alike, Houghton’s reputation as one of the WSL greats is already secured.
The women’s game can always use role models and as captain of club and country, one is certainly found here.
An uncompromising defender, a strong leader and a fantastic role model. Thank you for the last 150, Steph. Here’s to many more.