Georgia Stanway enjoyed a debut season to remember with Manchester City Ladies football team, but the starlet admits she is still a long way from being the finished article.
The 16-year-old starred last term for Blackburn Rovers, scoring an astonishing 35 goals in just 15 games in the Women’s Premier League.
A move to professional side Manchester City Ladies beckoned, and the England under-17 international picked up where she left off, scoring twice in the Women’s Super League – the top-tier of Ladies football in this country – in five appearances following her mid-season transfer.
But despite also looking unstoppable at international level, scoring eight goals in three Euro qualifying matches for the under-17 Lionesses earlier this month, Stanway is firmly focused on finding her feet as a professional player.
“It was hard to leave Blackburn Rovers behind, as of course they were the club that had believed in me, recruited me and progressed me so much as a player,” she said.
“But when you hear about such a big club like Manchester City coming in for me who are able to offer so much in terms of the facilities and training and things like that, the offer was too good to refuse.
“They have top, top players who are internationals and known around the world, so it definitely was a bit of a shock just walking onto the training pitch for the first time.
“Training with the likes of the England captain, Steph Houghton, and Toni Duggan still feels strange, I’m thinking ‘Whoa, am I actually marking her?’
“But I know I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing as I’m improving massively. I’m training every day with elite athletes, and not only maturing on the pitch but as a person as well.
“I can feel my body getting stronger, my technical ability is getting better, and all round I can do things now that I couldn’t do six months ago.”
Stanway’s emotional celebration when she smashed home her first Manchester City goal in their 2-0 victory over Everton in August showed how much taking the next step meant to her.
But she admits that she was even more excited to face her idol Fara Williams’ side, Liverpool, the following week.
She said: “Fara plays a similar position and I used to learn by analysing her performances to improve my own.
“I had a signed shirt from her which used to hang up on my wall so I could see it every day, and now to be playing in the same league as her is incredible.
“Unfortunately she was injured when we played Liverpool so she wasn’t there, but hopefully I will get the opportunity to play opposite her next season.”
Stanway is also part of the SSE Next Generation scheme, which partners with SportsAid to provide financial support and training to the sports stars of the future, and believes that experience has been invaluable.
“The SSE Next Generation programme has been a massive help to me – it has allowed me to experience a lot of things that I otherwise wouldn’t have.
“It helps you focus on the sport and gives you the right attributes you need to keen on living your dream – it makes sure you know what it takes to excel at the top level.”
SSE’s Next Generation programme partners with SportsAid to provide financial support and training to the sports stars of the future. Keep up to date with the latest @SSENextGen