England’s Georgia Stanway still inspired by Carli Lloyd message
Two years ago an 18-year-old Georgia Stanway was urged by United States great Carli Lloyd to do something special.
Stanway is now part of the England squad preparing to face Lloyd and the United States in the Women’s World Cup semi-finals, and she says she has “tried to live by” that message.
The Barrow-in-Furness native has been on a remarkable journey since being in Blackburn’s youth set-up and having doubts over whether she wanted to pursue a football career.
She went on to join Manchester City and in 2017 found herself a team-mate of Lloyd, scorer of a hat-trick in the 2015 World Cup final, who the club signed on a short-term deal.
“To play with Carli Lloyd at Manchester City was unbelievable,” midfielder Stanway said.
“I remember going into the changing rooms and not being able to speak and thinking ‘this woman has won everything’.
“I remember when she left, she left a signed pair of boots in my locker and basically said go and do something special.
“And I have definitely tried to live by that and do something that has never been done before. Where I’m from, Barrow-in-Furness, not a lot of people get out of the area.”
Last season Stanway scored 11 Women’s Super League goals for City, helped them win the Continental League Cup and FA Cup, and was named PFA Young Player of the Year.
She also netted on her senior England debut in November, was with the Lionesses as they won the SheBelieves Cup in the US earlier this year – a campaign featuring a 2-2 draw with the hosts – and was then the youngest player included in Phil Neville’s World Cup squad.
So far during the tournament in France Stanway has started one game, the 2-0 win against Japan in which she set up the opening goal, and made three appearances as a substitute.
The huge clash with the defending champions is on Tuesday in Lyon, and when asked what she would have thought if told four years ago, when she was completing her GCSEs, that she would have this match in front of her, Stanway said: “I wouldn’t have believed you. I would have told you to go away, ‘you’re dreaming’.
“I think that’s why it’s crazy for me, because everything has happened in such a short space of time.”
Stanway admits she was nervous at first coming into the England fold but says “I know my worth within this team” and that the big occasions are still “just a game of football”.
Asked how much contact she has had with Lloyd since the 36-year-old’s departure from City, Stanway said: “Bits and bats. Obviously we’re opposition and enemies now so you can’t cross the line!”
She added: “She’s unbelievable in what she has achieved and it’s inspiring to see her journey. If I can get a little taster of that then dreams will come true.”
England’s progress in France has had considerable attention back at home, with Thursday’s 3-0 quarter-final win over Norway setting a new UK television viewing record for women’s football, being watched by a peak audience of 7.6million.
Stanway, who says England are “so determined to go on and win this now”, said: “The backing of my town is unbelievable.
“The cricket club was full of people on Thursday night, people are walking on the streets with ‘Stanway’ shirts, and that’s never happened before. I’ve got people messaging me. It’s crazy.”
Thursday’s game was shown on big screens at Glastonbury after Stanway tweeted organisers asking them to do so so her brother could watch it.
And she said: “It’s massive. It was just a passing comment, he said over breakfast ‘any chance you could put a tweet out?’, never expecting it to get this big.
“I think that just shows how big the women’s game has grown. We are getting the support that the men got last year (when they reached the semi-finals of the World Cup in Russia) and obviously we wanted to mirror that coming here.
“We are going well in games, playing well and people are enjoying watching us. It means we will get more and more fans.
“Even if we inspire just one person it’s unbelievable. We will keep doing what we can to inspire the next generation and potentially create a bigger talent pool of upcoming Lionesses.”