After receiving her first call-up to the England senior squad against Russia in June 2018, Lucy Staniforth earned her first cap with the Lionesses a couple of months later in September 2018 in a World Cup-qualifying match against Kazakhstan, scoring in her debut. Since then, the 26-year-old midfielder has enjoyed scoring an absolute screamer against Japan in the 2019 SheBelieves Cup and earned a spot on England’s roster for France 2019.
Richard Laverty caught up with Staniforth ahead of the World Cup to get her reaction to being named to England’s World Cup squad for the first time.
Editor’s note — This interview has been edited for clarity.
Richard Laverty: How do you feel ahead of the World Cup?
Lucy Staniforth: I’m super excited. I’m just really ready to grasp any opportunities that I get and give it my all.
Laverty: What’s your journey been like from where you started out to where you are now?
Staniforth: I was just thinking about when I was at Sunderland before. We made enough money with our FA Cup run in the first year to fund our year in the Premier Division as it was at the time.
Then when we didn’t manage to well in the FA Cup, we were so short of cash, we couldn’t get to away games so this is just like, you wouldn’t have ever thought this was possible back then.
Laverty: Does that put more pressure on you as a player or does it feel more like a natural progression?
Staniforth: I feel so at ease with the expectations as a group. Maybe things will change when we get to France and we start to realize the scale of the tournament but it just feels really natural, it feels like we should be there.
Laverty: What are your personal aims for the tournament?
Staniforth: I definitely want to try and get into the starting 11 and bring what I’m capable of to the table and show what I can do on a world stage. If that’s not possible, I know some of the senior players have spoken about their tournaments in the past and how their teammates made it such a great experience for them because they were so supportive.
I’m sure you can tell the group is very well connected so it’s definitely important for me that if I’m not in the starting 11 that I fully support the girls because we want to win the World Cup, so it’s necessary.
Laverty: There’s always a chance, of course, the longer a tournament goes on players get injured and you’ll be called upon. Is Phil [Neville, England head coach] good at making sure everybody feels included?
Staniforth: Oh yeah, definitely. That’s one of Phil’s strengths, making me feel valued as a player and as a person, and I think you can see that by the performances when players have maybe been thrown in. It’s not necessarily been a bad performance, there’s been some really good experiences for those players who have come in so I definitely think that’s one of his biggest strengths.
Laverty: Your family must be delighted too as your dad is a former professional footballer and former FA WSL manager?
Staniforth: I’m sure he’ll be lapping it up, relieving his playing days through me, I’m sure he’ll be loving it and he’ll be fully supportive of me.
We speak a lot about football, I’m so lucky that my mum and her partner are so supportive of me, too. They’ll all be out there. I think my dad’s highlight was semifinals of the FA Cup with Plymouth Argyle, he doesn’t really throw his career on me though!
Staniforth and the rest of the England National Team open up Group D play against Scotland on June 9 in Nice.