Manchester City forward Georgia Stanway hopes she is inspiring young girls having gone from queuing for a picture with Steph Houghton to playing alongside her and scoring in the Women’s FA Cup final.
Stanway, named PFA Women’s Young Player of the Year last weekend and set to be part of the England squad for this summer’s World Cup, netted City’s second goal in their 3-0 victory over West Ham in Saturday’s final at Wembley.
The day before the game the 20-year-old had posted an image on Twitter of her posing with City and England captain Houghton that it appeared was taken at the 2014 final.
Stanway, having claimed the player of the match award on Saturday, said: “I think that picture just proves how important role models are. I’ve always looked up to Steph.
“I remember queuing for a good half hour to get a picture with her. But she’s one of my best mates now, so she’ll give me stick for how my hair looked!”
Asked if she had ever at that point imagined she would one day score in the final, Stanway said: “I don’t think I’ve ever imagined it because some things you don’t actually think are possible. But I’ve just gone that one better and achieved dreams that go beyond people’s imagination.”
Stanway was then asked if she thought of herself as a role model for girls watching Saturday’s match – which had an attendance of 43,264 – and said: “Yes, definitely.
“I think sometimes you kind of get caught up in the bubble of training, matches, and forget what’s on the outside. This makes it worthwhile, the fact they are screaming your name and supporting you.
“And if we inspire 10 girls then we’ve done our job, but hopefully a day like that can inspire thousands.”
After underdogs West Ham had gone close in the first half, with Jane Ross’ header being superbly kept out by Karen Bardsley, City went 1-0 up in the 52nd minute when Keira Walsh’s shot from outside the box caught out Anna Moorhouse.
Stanway added a low strike in the 81st minute and substitute Lauren Hemp beat the onrushing Moorhouse seven minutes later as City secured their sixth major trophy and second of the season.
Nick Cushing’s side, who claimed the Continental League Cup in February, will complete 2018-19 unbeaten domestically if they avoid defeat in next week’s Women’s Super League clash with recently-crowned champions Arsenal.
Saturday’s was the first Women’s FA Cup final since it started being played at Wembley in 2015 not to have an attendance bigger than the previous year’s, with the 2018 figure being 45,423.
It was understood over 50,000 tickets were issued, including both sales and those distributed, and it had been hoped a new record would be set.
West Ham had wanted the kick-off of their Premier League home clash with Southampton moved from 3pm to 12.30pm to give fans a chance to travel from that game to the final, but the league decided the change would not be possible.
It was a fine achievement for Matt Beard’s Hammers to have reached the final – the first time the club have done so – with them having only become a professional outfit last summer.
Captain Gilly Flaherty said on whufc.com: “We did ourselves so proud with how we defended in the first half.
“We literally ran ourselves into the ground and I think then fatigue crept in during the second half.
“We can take immense pride from what we’ve done, it wasn’t a 3-0 scoreline at all. I think Man City are lucky to win it.
“We had chances. It’s a game where we could say ‘what if’. But I know I’m proud of every single one of our players. We battled to the end and did this club proud.”
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