After signing with Leicester City in the summer of 2020, Kirstie Levell helped take the Foxes to the Championship title during the 2021 season. Since gaining promotion to the WSL, Levell has a new goal in mind — to step on the pitch and represent Scotland.
In an interview with Her Football Hub’s Hannah Wellon, Levell discussed the WSL season so far and her ambitions to play for Scotland.
From striker to a goalkeeper
Goalkeeping wasn’t in Levell’s initial plans. Rather, the now well established shot-stopper started as a striker for a local boys’ side until their goalkeeper faced an injury. Going from taking shots on goal to ensuring they stayed out, Levell discovered her true passion was for goalkeeping.
“I decided to step in for him and give goalkeeping a try,” she reflected. “It made me realize quite quickly that I hated running around and chasing the ball.
“I used to go to the park with my dad and he used to just smash balls at me in goal. There was no holding back from him and that’s where everything progressed from. To this day I’ll still say that the main reason was probably because I like the thrill of being in goal and not running as much.
“My dad used to always say ‘just throw yourself, get yourself in any position.’ A lot of goalkeepers are told they need to be in the perfect position to make a save. I think the main thing is just having fast feet, getting across the goal and getting any body part in the way that you can.”Embed from Getty Images
Leicester City moves up to the WSL
Last season, Leicester City claimed the FA Women’s Championship title, gaining them promotion to the WSL for the first time in their history.
In the very same season, Levell was awarded the Golden Glove for maintaining 10 clean sheets across 20 matches. Now, the keeper is back in the WSL and has continued to impress.
For Levell, her favourite moment so far this season was playing in the league match away to Chelsea. Her performance was highly praised by both sides of supporters, especially after stopping a strong attempt from Sam Kerr.
“I put my hands up and I don’t know how it went through my hands. But it hit me on the head and it did send me a little bit like ‘whoa’. So I stayed down for a bit then it hit me like ‘oh my God, I’ve just saved that’. Then I remember Ash [Plumptre] running over and smashing me on the back.
“I was buzzing with that and you could see the passion from some of the girls, especially the defenders.
“That was probably my favourite save to be honest. I would always say that I couldn’t wait to be back in the WSL where you get the recognition that many players deserve. For people to be posting that [save] everywhere was a nice feeling but also we know that Chelsea have a wide variety of players that can score a goal.
“It was really nice to save that and try and keep as many out as we could. We nearly did until the final minutes.”
Ambitions to play for Scotland
Despite playing in the youth systems for England, last season, Levell decided that she wanted to represent her mother’s home country, Scotland. The keeper has switched nationalities and is hoping to make her comeback from injury with a call-up to the senior squad.
“It would be amazing to represent Scotland. I got a taste from camp and there are many class individuals who are there and the world of football is just getting better. My grandma would be so proud. She’s messaging me every week and likes every single thing Leicester puts on Facebook.”Embed from Getty Images
Yet, despite being called up to a camp for Scotland, the experience was bittersweet for the keeper as it had to remain a secret.
“At my first camp with Scotland, my nationality hadn’t fully gone through. I wasn’t able to post anything or be in any photos during training. I have a few photos from then but I wasn’t able to share them so I was gutted about that.
“When it’s your first camp you want to get it out there, but I had to hold that back. It was unfortunate timing for that.”
Making a comeback from injury
In November, Kirstie Levell picked up a knee injury during Leicester’s match against Brighton. The injury required an operation and has kept the keeper from playing until recently.Now, she’s on the comeback and has completed a full session of training with several goals in mind.Embed from Getty Images
“Scotland have a new manager so some things changed there, then I ended up with my injury. I think as soon as I can be back, I’ll have a few goals in terms of trying to get into Scotland’s squad.
“My recovery is going well actually. I’m back in training and I’ve completed sessions with the outfield players and they’ve all had my back which is so nice. It’s something that makes you want to push on. I know I still have a lot of work to do, but I’m just happy to now be back fully involved with the team and hopefully get more wins this season.”
Leicester City currently sit 10th in the league and will next travel to face Manchester United on March 5th.