Name: Danielle Gibbons
Born: 31st July 1992 - Chorley
Team: Liverpool & England U19
Education: University of Central Lancashire
Encouraged to play football from an early age by her parents, Danielle Gibbons has never looked back.
Beginning her footballing career as a defender, Gibbons was a keen and determined player whose talent bloomed from her apparent modesty.
“I never thought that I was better than any of the others. I played as a defender until I was 13 or 14 and I played with some great young players”, said Gibbons.
Turning her hand to goalkeeping when her side was struggling to put a player between the posts, the girl from Chorley soon realised that she was much more at home.
Striving to improve and learn from experience, Gibbons signed for Preston North End Women in 2008 where she settled in extremely well. Her performances over three years there then caught the eye of Super League side, Liverpool Women and Gibbons was subsequently scouted to join the Merseyside club in 2011.
It was a difficult step to leave the side that had seen her grow as an accomplished young player but the chance of Super League football and a possible full England call-up was too much to turn down.
“It was hard to leave Preston North End because I’d really settled in and they were such a great bunch of girls, but I’m glad i did. Starting my first game i was really nervous; I knew that it would be on TV and that my parents were there so I wanted to do them proud. As soon as the game started I settled in and focused on the game rather than what was going on. You have to be nervous before a game, its natural”, explained Gibbons.
Meanwhile, her performances at club level had sparked interest by the England U19 coach and she was awarded her first junior cap against Finland on September 16th. Her special moment ended in victory but it was her first home appearance for England that will remain long in the memory as the young English side triumphed over France in November.
“My first home game was against France with a few thousand watching. The adrenaline rush I had when I walked on the pitch was immense. It was good to know that I’d made my friends and family proud”.
With women’s football on the up over the past few years, and the number of young girls getting involved in football on the increase there is a certain feeling of hope for the women’s game and being played in the men’s off-season, Gibbons believes that the Super League is benefitting greatly.
“Being optimistic, I hope that we'll get consitently high numbers watching the games. The turnout for the first half of the Super League season has been great so far, but the more the better. Slowly but surely I hope that we can build it up on the way to being as popular as some of the lower league men's games. I know that it's unrealistic to hope it will ever be as big as the Premier League though. Hopefully I’ll still be playing at this high level, and Liverpool will be challenging at the top of the table”.
The Women’s World Cup in Germany this summer has definitely come to the attention of football fans across the world as the awareness continues to rise, but England fans will be disappointed with their side’s Quarter-Final exit at the hands of the old enemy, France and guess what, on penalties.
Maybe the men and women aren’t so different after all?!
But, in the meantime, keep an eye out for the Super League and especially the ever-improving Danielle Gibbons between the posts for Liverpool Women.