England’s Georgia Stanway – tenacious, technically brilliant and “a superstar”

As members of Furness Rugby Club chatted and sipped their drinks on Sunday afternoon, they looked out the clubhouse window to see a young Georgia Stanway emerge from her back garden gate carrying a football and a set of cones.

The gardens of Litchmead Grove in this part of Cumbria, in the far north west of England, return to Furness first team ground and for a time future England international Stanway lived in one of them with his mother Joanne. Shortly after moving in, teenager Stanway politely asked the rugby club if she could practice on their pitch when it was not in use.

Once the cones were laid out, she would begin her individual training routine, running shuttles up and down the pitch before working on her technique, including using the rugby posts as a makeshift target for practice. in shooting.

The Furness Rugby Club ground on which a teenage Stanway would train

Those watching were amazed. Every session she did throughout a week was intense, and it all came through self-motivation.

“You could see she was training really hard. She was so focused and had one thing on her mind. You see where she is now, she’s reaping the benefits of that extra work,” a doorman said. -word of the rugby club. Athleticismpointing to the corner of the field farthest from the clubhouse.

This highlights Stanway’s work ethic and determination that helped her rise to the top. in three days.

Near Barrow-in-Furness station stands the statue of the late Emlyn Hughes, the most successful footballer in this Cumbrian town of around 68,000.

The former Liverpool captain was part of the dynasty under Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley that won four league titles, two European Cups and an FA Cup in the 1970s, and was voted Footballer of the Year in 1977 He also earned 62 England caps, 23 of them as skipper.

Locals may have to make room for another statue if Stanway can help England win the Euros at Wembley one week tomorrow.


The statue of the late Emlyn Hughes near Barrow station

When Athleticism visits on Friday morning, wind and rain have replaced the scorching heat of earlier in the week as people go about their business in the city center. There are no cafes with English flags flying or huge photos of their golden daughter plastered to the buildings in town, but people here are proud of their new superstar.

The scene is far from the sweltering temperatures at Brighton’s Amex Stadium, nearly 400 miles across the country, on Wednesday when Stanway picked up the ball and drove through the Spanish defense with the score 1-1 early in time additional. It all opened up for the midfielder, and when she pulled the trigger, the ball, a white blur, exploded past helpless goalkeeper Sandra Panos.

The crowd in the stadium went wild and the celebrations were similar to Barrow with lively scenes in pubs including The Strawberry on Abbey Road showing the match.

Around the corner from this pub is where Stanway began developing his craft as a four-year-old with local club Furness Rovers at Strawberry Fields leisure ground, which is next to the rugby ground that she would use during her teenage years.

Stanway was obsessed with football from an early age (Photo courtesy of the Stanway family)

Growing up around three football-mad brothers, Stanway first lived in Askam-in-Furness, a short distance north of Barrow, where she spent most evenings on the beach playing various sports or crabbing near the pier.

“She came (to Furness Rovers) because her brother was training and at first she was just picking up balls when we were doing shooting practice, but her mum asked if she could join in – and she is. part. Pretty quickly it became clear that she had a lot of football talent,” said former Stanway coach Steve Liddicott. Athleticism.

“She was always competitive and held her own. She would never back down from a tackle – she was trying to prove she was better than the boys.

Idolizing Alan Shearer of Newcastle United, the region’s top club 100 miles to the northeast, Stanway started out as a striker and her talent was evident from an early age.

Liddicott spoke to his parents about his involvement in the academic system. They decided to keep her at Furness Rovers rather than take on the difficult travel commitments and greater pressure to join a bigger club with their still so young daughter.

“Georgia was able to shoot with both feet with a lot of power,” says Liddicott. “She was quick and when she was on the ball she always thought ahead and knew what she wanted to do.

Stanway, Manchester City

Stanway at Barrow-in-Furness in 2018 with Manchester City (Photo: Tom Flathers/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)

“All the teams that thought they were going to have an easy time because they were playing against a girl were wrong. They knew the score after the first 50-50 challenge.

Stanway was allowed to play men’s football up to under-11 level, but then had to find a new team, joining the Dalton Girls, also in Barrow.

Liddicott recalled the league president receiving complaints after a game because of Stanway’s quality compared to the rest of the girls in his age group.

With her parents still unsure if she was ready to make the jump to academy level, Stanway took a year off from football, spending time playing cricket instead. A wicketkeeper and batsman, she played at county level until she was around 14 years old.

Finally, her parents allowed her to be tried at the Blackburn Rovers Center of Excellence when she was at Under-13 level.

She stood out and the four-hour round trip to Lancashire to train three times a week began. The community was keen to support her, and Stanway has spoken in the past about helping the family through money raised to pay for their gas and a gym membership.

Former England international Fara Williams first met Stanway while coaching for the Football Association at Barrow. Core coaches in his hometown would mention the youngster as a player to watch – and Williams would see why firsthand when his Everton side faced Blackburn a few years later.

Stanway, England

Stanway celebrates his goal against Spain with a Shearer-style pose (Photo: Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

“The player she is now is the player she always was. Aggressive, a fighter, a warrior,” Williams says Athleticism. “In that game (where she first saw her) I told the referee that if the manager didn’t take her off she would be sent off – and the parents next door were saying the same thing.

“She was tenacious and a winner but she could also play, technically brilliant. She’s a superstar and it’s amazing to see that she has reached this level.

Amanda Goodwin, then Blackburn manager, was instrumental in Stanway’s development and followed his journey from his initial trial to becoming a first-team regular, scoring 35 goals in 15 games. Stanway recognized Goodwin’s influence, constantly demanding more of the youngster and determined to get the best out of her.

The desire to succeed has always been there.

A well-known story is of a 15-year-old Stanway who convinced her mother to be a goalie in their backyard so she could practice shooting. Quickly, Joanne was more concerned with getting out of the way than saving shots due to the power her daughter was generating.

Opposite The Strawberry is the Matt Johnson Prestige car dealership.

Johnson has sponsored Stanway since she was 16 and paid for her driving lessons so she could travel to and from Barrow.

“She’s incredibly important to the city,” he says. “He’s constantly referenced talking to local customers about how inspiring she is to local girls and boys because she’s at the top of the sport.”

A phone call from an unknown number to Stanway’s house in 2015 changed everything.

To her mum’s surprise, Nick Cushing, then Manchester City Women’s head coach, was online – and he made it clear he wanted to sign his daughter,

The following evening, Cushing traveled to meet the family, laying out his vision for Stanway. Then 16, she didn’t need convincing, but her parents were keen to make sure all her interests were covered, from her studies to where she would live in Manchester.

Nick Cushing, Georgia Stanway, Manchester City, New York

Stanway with Cushing at City in 2019 (Photo: Tom Flathers/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)

As Stanway’s father, Paul, says Athleticism before her daughter represented the British team at the Olympics in Japan last year: “During the Georgia high school careers interview, they asked her what she wanted to be and she said answered: “A footballer”.

“They retorted, ‘No – what are you really want to do? You will not be a footballer”.

“But she had a one-sided mind, and when Manchester City came calling, there wasn’t even a decision to be made. Georgia was leaving, and that was the end of it.

Stanway moved in with a host family after completing his move to Manchester.

It was a big change, moving almost 100 miles from home at such a young age. She attended St Bede’s College in Manchester, a private school also attended by the city’s male academy players, taking lessons in the morning and then training in the early afternoon.

Her legacy is still felt at the school she left behind. Dowdales High School in the village of Dalton-in-Furness, north of Barrow, enjoyed much success with Stanway in the team, including back-to-back County Cup successes. Participation in women’s football remains high there.

It’s no wonder when you consider what Stanway has accomplished.

A Women’s Super League title, three FA Cups and three League Cups to go along with the Professional Footballers’ Association Young Player of the Year in 2018-19. Last season, she overtook England team-mate Nikita Parris’ tally of 62 to become City Women’s top scorer (at the end of the campaign, Stanway had 67). After that Spanish quarter-final, she scored 11 goals for England in 38 appearances.

And now, having completed a move to German giants Bayern Munich this summer ahead of the Euros, there’s plenty more to look forward to.

But first, there is a European title up for grabs.

If Stanway can replicate his midweek heroism over the next eight days, Barrow will have his first major winner of the international football tournament.

(Main image designed by Sam Richardson)

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