Ahead of England’s FIFA u20 Women’s World Cup third-place play-off on Friday, I spoke to former Arsenal midfielder, Georgia Allen, who now plays her football stateside for Syracuse University.
I asked Georgia what the mood is like in the England camp following the semi-final defeat to Japan by two goals to nil.
“There was an initial disappointment but we got over that quickly because we have got the such an important game coming up,” she said. “Everybody is really excited.
“We have reviewed the Japan game, we know what we need to do now for Friday and our mind is set on that. There is no time to dwell, especially with a quick turnaround. So everybody is upbeat, we are all together, there is no disintegration, we are very happy to be here”
It is good to note that there is no hangover from the Japan game and every player is up for Friday’s match, ready to play the hosts France. They are a well-known opponent, as the teams have played each other three times in the current u19/u20 cycle.
There was a 3-1 win for England in a friendly tournament in Northern Ireland, then a 1-1 draw at the La Manga u19 tournament and then a 1-0 France win at last year’s UEFA u19 euros in Northern Ireland.
I asked if being familiar with the opposition was a good thing and how confident England were in their chances to win the game.
“We always go into the game believing we can win, no matter the opponent if we have played them hundred times or one time.
“We know that they will bring a strong side that has had a fine tournament like us. A third place medal is a big deal, it is a big game, it is a big occasion but we know what it takes to rise to the occasion. We will stick together as a team and combat anything they will throw at us”
I then came back to Georgia’s excellent performance in the World Cup quarter-final, when she came into the team for the suspended Mollie Rouse and created an assist for Georgia Stanway for the England equalizer.
“It is always an honour to play for England, whether it is one minute or ninety minutes,” she said.
“I was ecstatic to start and to do a job that was required of me. I enjoyed the game, I enjoyed the occasion. To beat Holland after what we went through at the Euros (England beat Scotland in a World Cup play-off after finishing third in the group stage behind the Netherlands and France), [We’re] pleased with performance as a team and I was really happy to be on the pitch.
Besides the football tournament, we spoke about Brittany and France as a welcoming place for the team and the players
“It has been lovely! We have been to a couple of hotels now, everyone has been happy to see and welcome us. We have had a lovely time with picturesque places, we are lucky to be here and really enjoyed our time”
As a follow-up to the interview we did with Allen two years ago, I also asked about her transfer from ETSU to Syracuse University and the reasons behind that change.
“It was my decision. I wanted to be in a place that challenged me, physically, technically, tactically. I always want to improve and I can’t stand being stationary and not feeling like I am improving.
“I just looked for the next challenge to improve me as a person as well. I spoke to a few universities and when I met with Phil and Kelly at Syracuse, they wanted to create a competitive environment with a great team culture that I wanted to be a part of.
“I am looking forward to getting back to Syracuse and getting my second season and hopefully I can take more of a leadership role this year (Georgia will be a Junior this season).
“There are really a great bunch of girls and a knowledgeable coaching staff. I am looking forward to learning some more.
Georgia also changed her major subject when transferring from ETSU to Syracuse, moving from Human Services from to Psychology.
“I have always had an interest in psychology,” she explained. “I have done it since GCSE through A-Level. It is really a fascinating subject, it is a great major and kind of weird that I will have completed the majority of my degree at the end of year and then I will looking at what happens next.”
Was her degree was done in three or four years as she would still have to do her senior year after this season? “I will have completed nearly all of my major class at the end of the Junior year and then it is more general education classes”
Georgia is clearly a strong player physically and mentally and it is good see such an ambitious and driven youngster playing for England.
With thanks to the FA’s Emily Liles who organised the interview.