The England captain’s armband is an honour a privileged few will be able to share, but it can also be a duty that comes with stress and a heavy burden.
Steph Houghton is the consummate leader for the Lionesses, but she has revealed it has not always been that way.
The Manchester City defender said she tried to be “everyone’s mate” when she was first appointed England captain in April 2014. But soon learned that she had to be true to herself.
“When I got the captaincy I probably tried not to be myself and I tried to be everyone’s mate but over six to seven months I worked hard to be myself and stick to what I really believed is right,” Houghton told new BBC and COPA90 podcast The Players, which launches on Wednesday.
“There were other experienced players who could have easily had the captain’s armband and had so much more experience than me,” the 32-year-old added. “I remember thinking I just I feel as though I need to prove to everybody that it’s the right decision and I ended up losing so much energy trying to be someone that I wasn’t.”
Right by Houghton’s side has been the experience and listening ear of fellow City team-mate, Jill Scott. “When you look at qualities a captain should have, Steph ticks them all. It’s a massive role, it really is,” Scott, who joined Houghton on The Players, said.
“I’ve seen it over the years how much she’s had to take on on her own. I think one of the biggest things is probably kind of not caring too much about what people think of you and I think she’s learned to do that.”
The podcast, which is available on on BBC Sounds, is hosted by former New Zealand defender Bex Smith, and will have weekly interviews with some of the biggest players in football.