Steph Houghton – England women’s team captain in a headband
England captain Steph Houghton is a serial winner at the club football level. Houghton is a four-time Women’s Premier League/Women’s Super League winner and has lifted the FA Women’s Cup on four different occasions. She is one of the most decorated female footballers in English women’s football history and captained the national team at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 and 2019.
Now 32, Houghton’s international football career with England came at an early age. She was called up to the national team at the age of 17 and received her first call-up against a strong German women’s side. Houghton first call-up came in October 2006, and despite it being her first senior selection, she had already played for various England youth national teams.
Houghton’s first appearance as a Lionesses didn’t come until March 2007, nearly six months after the initial call-up to the squad. Houghton came on as a second-half sub in England’s 6-0 thrashing of Russia. Just as her international career was about to take off, however, Houghton suffered a broken leg forcing her out of the Women’s World Cup 2007. It seemed like injuries could play a major part in her career early on. Not long after returning from her broken leg, Houghton damaged her ACL forcing her out of the Euro 2009 England team.
Her potential had shown through, however. Knowing Houghton was a future star in the women’s game, the Football Association gave her a professional contract. Houghton was just one of 17 women to receive a contract at the time to train, play, and live life similar to her male counterparts in the England men’s national side.
Houghton’s international career has been an incredible success, but it all came from her brilliance as club footballer. She began her playing career at Sunderland, the club in which she came through as youth player. Being from the area, Houghton was able to represent the Black Cats for five years. During her time with Sunderland, Houghton won the FA Young Player of the Year Award and helped the club achieve promotion.
Her performances in 2006-07 with Sunderland led to interest from some of the top clubs in English women’s football. In spite of Arsenal, the top women’s team, being interested, Houghton landed at Leeds United. After three years with the Lady Whites, she joined Arsenal and helped them win five trophies in a four-year time span. Although the centre-back was a top player in women’s football, she achieved new heights after signing for Manchester City in 2013, where she has been ever since.
As an English international, Houghton continues to see success. In November 2018, she achieved her 100th cap for the England women’s national team. Just under two years later, in March 2020, Houghton was “crowned England's most inspirational female footballer”. The crown was awarded for her footballing career and media work. When the Women’s Super League and international football return, Houghton will be a major factor for both club and country once more.