Turning dreams into reality

I hope you all liked my first little blog and enjoyed a little insight into what happens on a typical day at the Chelsea Ladies training ground.

For this blog, I thought I would take you back to a younger Fran; why I decided to play football and how I found myself becoming a Chelsea Ladies and England international. I’ve always been keen on football; my third birthday is my youngest memories of being football mad and I always had a ball at my feet, out in a nearby field having a kick-a-bout with my brother and family. I actually started playing as a goalkeeper - a very short one at that! That is probably why you now find me in the furthest position away from my team’s goal!

I remember playing in a tournament at Regent’s Park, all the academy teams would meet up to play against each other. I played half of the games in goal, and half out on the pitch, and I was named ‘Player of the Day’, which was picked by a collection of England footballers. Marianne Spacey was one of the coaches I had a picture with when I was 10-years-old and she would later become the assistant manager for England when I first received my Lionesses call-up. But playing outfield is where I wanted to be and thankfully, I’ve never looked back. My first manager decided to give me nickname of ‘Giggsy’, because I always wanted to dribble with the ball, do step-overs and score goals. 

When I first joined a Ladies team, it was difficult for us to find a league which would challenge us, as we had a lot of the Reading academy girls playing in the team, so the standard was high. We joined a male league and a lot of the time we would turn up to play to find the boys laughing at us, but they weren’t laughing after the game. I remember distinctly a match where that happened and we ended up winning 13-0, and they left the pitch crying. I think it was important for us to play against the boys, as it made us more physical and comfortable with the speed of play – and for the boys to realise that girls can play football - and can beat you.

Moving on to life now as a professional footballer. I didn’t grow up believing that one day I would have the opportunity to do the one thing I loved all day every day. It was just a pipedream, really. But going from playing at the local park by my house, to now training at Cobham every day is quite the transition! Having this opportunity makes me feel very fortunate and to be able to train with the players I do day in, day out is a real privilege. 

As much as I love the game, I also take the attitude that I must be happy with my life outside of football. Away from Cobham, I live quite a relaxed and chilled lifestyle, which now includes my writing and studying. I would consider myself a social person, sometimes. A few of the girls will meet up for dinner, or maybe do some bowling or just meet up for a night around each other’s houses.

Alongside this chilled life, I have a very playful and excited puppy, who I need to make sure I walk for long enough to tire him out enough so I can watch the football in peace! Whenever I get in from training, the first thing I do is take Cody out for about an hour walk, or sometimes I make him go for a run with me – he really doesn’t enjoy running so most of the time he will resist when his lead is on and lay on the floor so we don’t have to go out. He’s nearly as lazy as I am when I have to defend during a game!

I’ve always wanted a dog and I feel it has made me more responsible, having something that I have to take such good care of. He is, however, the most spoilt dog I think I know - and he knows it, too!