Team GB Olympic Games star and (Team England Women’s Player of the Year) Steph Houghton is relishing her return to England duty…
as Hope Powell’s team kick off their build-up to July’s Women’s European Championship finals with a tough set of fixtures at the Cyprus Cup.
Italy, New Zealand and home nations rivals Scotland will be England’s group opponents in a Cyprus tournament which they won in 2009 and then went on to finish runners-up to Germany at Euro 2009 in Finland.
Arsenal left back Houghton, who shot to stardom with three goals in four Team GB games at last year’s Olympics – including the winner against Brazil at Wembley – has fond memories of Cyprus 2009.
The now 24-year-old defender hit her first international goal in a 6-0 group win against South Africa and was then in the starting line-up for the final, in which England beat Canada 3-1 to lift the trophy.
(The FA via Action Images)
Sadly injury then forced her out of Euro 2009, but as she looked ahead to this week’s opening Cyprus Cup group game against Italy she recalled: “The 2009 Cyprus Cup was a great tournament for me but for the team as well.
“We played well as a squad throughout the tournament and to win it was a great boost for us at as we started our preparations for the Euro finals. It would be nice to think we could do it again this year, but it’s going to be tough.
“We’ve got hard games in quick succession against three different types of opponents – Italy are very technical, New Zealand are strong and aggressive and Scotland are a well organised and very hard working side.
“We lost to Scotland for the first time in quite a while when we played them at the Cyprus Cup a couple of years ago, so we’ll be aiming to get our own back and that should be a tremendous game.
“We’ve got a very talented squad competing in Cyprus and winning the tournament again would be great, but the main thing will be to start building momentum and a winning mentality for the Euro finals.”
SHE KICKS – the online community for women’s football