Lioness was sweating on GCSEs during last World Cup
FOUR years ago, Georgia Stanway was nervously awaiting the results of her GCSEs.
On Tuesday night, she will be equally nervous, pending a date with the United States ahead of a potentially career-defining World Cup semi-final.
The young Lioness only turned 20 years of age in January but has already come of age with Manchester City.
Lining up against the cream of the world’s best in Lyon will be reward for the girl who was determined to leave Cumbria to better herself.
Asked if, four years ago, she’d have seen herself walking out alongside
Megan Repinoe or Carli
Lloyd (right) on the biggest stage of all, Stanway said: “I’d have told you to go away and stop dreaming.
“It’s been crazy for me. Everything has happened in such a short space of time.
“Even playing with Carli at Manchester City was unbelievable. I remember going into the changing rooms and thinking: ‘This woman has won everything.’
“When she left, she left a signed pair of boots in my locker and said: ‘Go and do something special.’
“And I have definitely tried to live by that.
“I’m from Barrow-in-Furness and not a lot of people get out of the area.
“But in order to achieve something you’ve got to leave and try to find it yourself.
“The backing of my town is unbelievable and I’m forever grateful. Last night the cricket club was full of people, you see people walking around with ‘Stanway’ shirts. People are messaging me. It’s crazy.”
Like many of the Lionesses, Stanway’s path to national recognition did not come easy, particularly as the nearest academy was way down the M6 in Blackburn.
She said: “It was two hours there, two hours back, three times a week. It jeopardised my schooling and my social life and it took a lot of sacrifice.
“I was picked up at 3.50pm and I was getting back after 11pm, then had to go to school the next day.
“My teachers were brilliant, I had one-to-ones with them to make sure I was getting what I needed to pass my GCSEs.
“But football’s one in a million. There are 23 girls here from all over England.
“At times, I’ve cried, got upset and thought about whether it was what I wanted. But when I got my first call-up, I knew.
“The girls I went to school with will tell you I am obsessed with football. It’s all I ever talk about.
“I used to take my own dinners to school and say: ‘Oh, I’ve got training tonight,’ and they’d banter me about it. But it’s paid off.”
Head coach Phil Neville (left) has changed his side to suit. Stanway has not yet had a start but it is likely she will feature at some stage on Tuesday.
She said: “We played the USA in the SheBelieves Cup and I think we rattled them slightly.
“We are playing a world-class team but in order to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best.
“So it’s important we remember who we are, why we are here. We’ve come this far so let’s do something special.”