Lioness was sweat­ing on GCSEs dur­ing last World Cup

Sunday Mirror (Northern Ireland) - - Women’s World Cup - By NEIL MOXLEY @neil_­mox­ley

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.”

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