Manchester City skipper Steph Houghton has been named as England women’s captain ahead of the Three Lionesses’ opening 2015 World Cup qualifier in Brighton on Saturday.
The Blues defender replaces Casey Stoney after already captaining England twice – in a friendly against Norway in January, and in the Cyprus Cup against Canada.
The 25-year-old, who has 44 caps for her country, joined City from Arsenal ladies ahead of the 2014 Women’s Super League season, was delighted at being able to achieve a lifelong ambition.
“It’s a dream come true. To wear an England shirt and to captain your country is something I’ve dreamed of since I was a little girl,” the Durham born player told Manchester City’s official website.
“All the captains I’ve played under – such as Casey Stoney, Faye White and Kelly Smith – have all really helped me throughout my career and it meant a lot. I know if I needed advice, I could go to any of them.
“On the pitch, I just try to lead by example and do the best for my country. We have such a talented group of girls and to put on the armband and lead them out in a world cup qualifier will be a tremendous honour.”
— Manchester City WFC (@MCWFC) April 4, 2014
Captaining at the highest level is nothing new to Houghton as she led Arsenal to an FA Cup and Continental Cup double in 2013, before moving to Manchester City in 2014.
Mark Sampson, England’s head coach, was confident with his decision and believes the defender will be an inspiration for her fellow team mates.
“Steph has many of the qualities needed to be an inspirational leader,” the former Bristol Academy Women’s FC manager said.
“She’s honest, hard-working, ambitious and has a winning attitude. She also has the room and time to improve as a player and grow as a leader, which fits in perfectly with our vision for the team.”
He added: “She is being passed the armband by an incredible leader in Casey Stoney, who has been a fantastic England captain and ambassador for women’s football.”
The England national side head into the weekend qualifier full of confidence despite a recent 2-0 defeat to France in the final of the Cyprus Cup.
Houghton, who scored the winning goal in a 1-0 victory over Brazil at Wembley for the Great Britain team during London 2012, is also looking for success whilst captaining Manchester City this season.
“I want to be a leader and win as many competitions as possible, and obviously work as hard as possible and be successful for City,” she explained to MM.
“We want to challenge with the top clubs and that was key for us as individuals and the team when joining the club.
“Here they want to develop you as an individual but also we want to bring success to the football club and mirror how successful the men’s team has been.”
Houghton will be in action with her fellow City team mates away to Reading FC Women in the FA Women’s Cup on Sunday April 13 and kicking off the FA WSL away to reigning champions Liverpool Ladies FC the following Thursday.
Main image courtesy of England Football Official via YouTube, with thanks.