A Day With: Man City star Steph Houghton

Denzil Pinto 09:59 18/02/2016
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  • In Abu Dhabi: Steph Houghton.

    At just 27-years-old, Steph Houghton is reaching the peak of her career but she already has the honour of leading Manchester City and England women’s teams in her captaincy role.

    It’s a job that she fully relishes and having missed out on the Women’s Super League title last season, Houghton remains hungry as ever in achieving as much success on the field when the new season begins next month.

    The defender spoke to Sport360 during City’s pre-season training camp in Abu Dhabi about the targets ahead, the club’s ambitions, last year’s World Cup and why she wants to be considered a role model for youngsters.

    You’ve played for Arsenal and Leeds United, what makes Manchester City stand out from the rest?

    First and foremost, to train week in and week out in the fantastic training facilities is very encouraging. That in itself is a great boost as a player as we all want to develop but most importantly this is a family club. Everybody looks out for each other and although I want to improve as a player, I want to help others become better players as well.

    How does the project mirror what the men’s team is doing?

    I think it’s entirely the same. The club takes the male and female games as seriously as each other. We both want to win trophies and everyone in the club is moving in the same direction and wants to be competitive in terms of beating the best in the league.

    We want to play a style of football that is very attractive and I feel we have a lot more to give in terms of the women’s side and have a lot of potential. Hopefully, we can come out good this season.

    How would you describe last season, especially after being beaten to the Women’s Super League title by Chelsea on the final day?

    In terms of a squad, we are all winners and not to have that trophy at the end of the season was disappointing. But we have to look at the positives, we had a fantastic run towards the end of the season and to claim a Champions League spot is great for everyone involved. But we are more determined more than ever to win some trophies.

    You’ve already had a taste of what it’s like to play in the Champions League during your Arsenal days, how does it feel to qualify for the tournament and why is it so special?

    We have a lot of players in this squad that have played in the Champions League at one point in their career at various clubs. In my view, it’s the best club competition that you want to be part of and you want to play against the best players in Europe.

    That’s what we want at this club, we want to be the best and the only way we do that is by playing in the Champions League, so we are very excited.

    How far can this club go in terms of becoming one of the world’s best?

    As far as they want. We have everything in place and it’s important that we don’t stand still and continue to push the boundaries in women’s football and make the club that everyone looks up to. That’s not just on the pitch but off the pitch as well. The way the club is run in terms of facilities, the people who are involved, it’s important that everyone looks at us as a professional team.

    Five-time World Player of the Year Marta has recently said she’s been impressed with the WSL. Would you like to see her come to England and perhaps play for Man City?

    Marta is a great player and she has been for a long time. I think for us, it’s important that we bring in the right players to the club and I feel we got a really strong squad at the moment that are very competitive.

    You were part of the England squad that finished third in last year’s World Cup. How will that experience help you in achieving more success for the national team?

    It was massive for us to be part of the biggest football stage. To be competitive and play matches where you have to win to get through and for us as a national team, we know what we can do now. We’ve reached so far and still have a lot more to give. It’s exciting times especially with the European qualifiers coming up so we want to secure qualification as quickly as we can.

    Who were your role models when you were growing up?

    David Beckham, Steven Gerrard and Kevin Phillips are just a few. It was very rare that you ever find women’s football on television when I was young so those players drove their teams forward and produced the performances week in, week out.

    How important is it to be considered a role model for aspiring youngsters?

    Being with this football club and with England, part of the job is to be a good role model and being professional. It’s something that I’m taking very seriously in terms of developing the women’s game. It’s not just for me but for the rest of the team as well.

    What goals have you set yourself long-term and short-term?

    To win as many trophies. I want to win trophies and I’m at a club where I can do that and I hope it can continue.

    This is your second time in Abu Dhabi, how does it feel to be back?

    After visiting Abu Dhabi last year, it’s fantastic to be back here. It’s a different culture and the climate is hot and very different from Manchester. It’s a good training camp for us as we can prepare well for the new season and be able to inspire a lot of girls in the UAE to take up football.