Faye White: ‘I would pinch myself if I was a kid looking at women’s football today’

30 Jun 2001: Faye White and Kelly Smith of England during the Germany v England Women's UEFA European Championship match played at Jena, Germany. Mandatory Credit: Stuart Franklin/ALLSPORT

It’s perfectly arguable that Faye White is one of the most iconic players to ever pull on an England shirt.

Having captained the Lionesses to a major final in 2009 and amassed 90 senior caps, she is a legend in her own right.

Her Football Hub spent the afternoon with Faye in Milton Keynes, one of the host towns for the upcoming UEFA Women’s Euro.

Stadium MK will host some of the matches this summer, along with the likes of Old Trafford and Wembley.

Faye immediately stressed how much of an impact a home game can have on local communities.

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“It increases the awareness of the country to women’s football and girls football,” she said. “I mean, I remember my first time watching an England team. I was about 14 and it just inspired me to know that’s where I could get to, you know then that is possible.”

Faye continued to look back at her own experiences within the beautiful game. She elaborated on the impact that the media attention will have on the Euros this summer.

“This was a long time ago, women’s football wasn’t as visible as it is nowadays. The fact the England team, other top internationals, world class players are going to be playing in England all over the country — it’s going to be incredible.

SHANGHAI, CHINA – SEPTEMBER 14: Faye White of England shouts out to her team-mates during the Group A Womens World Cup 2007 match between England and Germany at Shanghai Hongkou Football Stadium September 14, 2007 in Shanghai, China. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Bongarts/Getty Images)

“I played in the Euro’s in 2005 when we hosted it up in the North West. And it was very specific to that area — almost outside of that area, people didn’t know about it.

“But 30,000 people watched us play Finland in the City [of Manchester] stadium, we still felt so proud.”

“I would just pinch myself if I was a young kid today”

Faye compared her time at the Euros to the upcoming tournament. The former Lioness admitted she would barely believe the magnitude of the competition if she was a young girl in 2022.

“Now though, women’s football is so very different with the kind of reach and profile it’s got with the media. The games will be on live TV. They’re likely to be sold out in the stadiums. I mean, I would just pinch myself if I was a young kid today.”

This is testament to how effective a home tournament can be when creating an upturn in sport involvement. For comparison sake, the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics resulted in 1.4 million more people playing sport at least once a week according to the Olympic legacy review.

LONDON, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 10: The crowd applaud a Paralympian during the London 2012 Victory Parade for Team GB and Paralympic GB athletes on September 10, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Tim Ireland – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

For Faye, only male players were available role models while she was growing up. She admitted that as a female player, she found it “hard to visualise professional football” as a career.

“So these young girls here, I mean, it will just make them feel like the world’s their oyster.

“This is going to be huge for the legacy and for getting young girls feeling like they feel accepted in playing football. For them to know that they can just go into somewhere local and probably find a team to join.

“If that’s isn’t already the case, this tournament will make that happen even more than it’s ever done.”

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