THERE will be no horsing around when England bid for their first Women’s World Cup in France.
But Millie Bright could well have been in the paddock rather than Phil Neville’s World Cup squad had she pursued her first love.
Centre-back Bright, 25, has had a fine season at Chelsea and now she can make a big impression on the world stage.
It marks another chapter in a journey that started on horseback in the Derbyshire town of Killamarsh.
Bright said: “I was probably on a horse before the age of three. From a very young age I could ride on my own, work, trot, you name it.
“Back then, I didn’t have great balance so there were lots of falls but I just got back up and went again. It didn’t matter if I picked up a few bruises.
“I don’t think I started kicking a ball until I was six or seven. Horses were my first love so I was occupied with that.
“Until I was about ten I wasn’t that good. I just had loads of energy and loved running around.”
Everything changed when she joined local side Killamarsh Dynamos after some gentle persuasion from her best friend.
She said: “The next thing you know her dad, my first coach, is waving papers at my mum and dad trying to get me to sign. From there I joined Sheffield’s academy and it’s been all about progression since.
“I stayed there until I was 16 and that’s when it all started getting more serious. They were getting us in the gym and teaching us all about nutrition.”
Bright left Sheffield to join Doncaster Belles in 2009, although she credits a loan move to Leeds with kick-starting her career. She said: “I needed to just go and enjoy the game to develop. It was the best decision I could have made. I played every game and scored loads of goals.
“That’s when I was picked up by England Under-19s. It was all a whirlwind because I had gone away to pick up experience and the next thing I know I’m getting an England call-up.
“From there it was on to the Under-23s, then the England Next Gen squad and now the seniors. I still can’t believe I’m going to a World Cup.
“I keep pinching myself every day. I just want girls to see that they can do it, no matter what their background or what school they’re at. The opportunities are there.”
SUNSPORT’S new Women’s World Cup columnist Alex Scott interviewed Chelsea and England defender Millie Bright for her Hometown Glory series, which can be seen in full on www.dreamteamfc.com.