Following on from her involvement in England’s bronze medal heroics at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup finals in Canada over the summer, Alex Greenwood, along with her international team-mates, have found themselves in the spotlight.
But without even taking the World Cup into account, the left-back has had a whirlwind 12 months which has seen her make the move from Everton to Notts County, where she’s to follow up a historic FA Cup final appearance at Wembley with another trophy clash against Arsenal in the FA WSL Continental Tyres Cup final on November 1st.
The 22-year-old has featured more than any other Notts player this season, making 25 appearances and scoring four goals to help Rick Passmoor’s side finish fifth in the Women’s top-flight.
And despite a stutter in their WSL 1 form following the conclusion of the World Cup, the young defender is taking huge encouragement from her recent experiences in 2015 as she prepares for next month’s final and the Three Lionesses’ quest for Euro 2017 glory.
Shoot spoke to Greenwood EXCLUSIVELY about her debut season at Meadow Lane, England coach Mark Sampson, the incredible World Cup campaign and her FIFA 16 likeness.
This season was your first at Notts County since leaving Everton back in January. How have you enjoyed your time at the club so far?
“Yeah, it has been great. I have been to the FA [Women’s] Cup final. We had a great league run at the start, but unfortunately we haven’t been able to continue that. But I know for next season, it looks bright for the future.”
You have started the most games at the club this season (24), scoring four times. What have you made of your personal performances this year?
“Yeah, I think I have made progress. Training full-time and every day changes you as a player. Being on the football every day makes you a better player in itself. I think I am surrounded by international players and players of top quality, so that only improves your game anyway.”
Notts County finished fifth in FAWSL1, seven points above relegation, but reached an FA Cup final too. How would you sum up the club’s season?
“I think it was a season of two halves. I think in the first-half of the season, we were brilliant. I think for the second-half of the season; the back end of the World Cup, I think we just picked up a few injuries and some players were mentally and physically tired. Sometimes that showed on the pitch. Unfortunately we just couldn’t keep up the performances that we were doing in the first-half. It is not necessarily an excuse, it is just that tiredness does creep in. Sometimes when you don’t have a big squad or the depth in the squad to change things around, you have your main eleven play every week at times, it can be hard.”
The Lady Pies lost 1-0 to Chelsea in the FA Women’s Cup final back in August. Having lost to Arsenal with Everton last year, how difficult was that for you to stomach again?
“Yeah again, it was a disappointment. I don’t like getting beat; whether it is an FA Cup final or on a Sunday. I just don’t like getting beat. It was hard to stomach again but hopefully next season I will make it third time lucky.”
The final in August was at Wembley for the first time? Despite losing, how great of an experience was that?
“It was amazing! I played there against Germany for England last year which was amazing. But to walk out with your club, who have worked all year to get there, was an unbelievable achievement.”
To another cup – You are into the FA WSL Continental Tyres Cup final against Arsenal. How confident are you of lifting the trophy?
“Yeah, I am very confident. I am very confident every week when we step out onto the pitch to play any team, I think we can win. We have got to be right on it and prepare properly this week to make sure we go there and get the result.
Let’s now rewind to this summer’s heroics. What was it like to be part of the World Cup finals in Canada with England?
“Yeah, it was unbelievable. We made history. To walk away with a bronze medal was amazing. Obviously it was disappointing that we didn’t go all the way, but to inspire a nation and do what we have done back home has been absolutely amazing.
“I think we had higher expectations of ourselves than everybody else. I think we knew the ground work that we had put in on the pitch and the stuff that we had done away from the cameras, if you want to say. We knew we had a strong baseline and we knew we could go on and kick on after every game we were out there.”
You helped the Lionesses defeat Germany for the first time in England’s history. What was that like – to be part of women’s footballing history?
“I think not only to win a bronze medal, but to do it against Germany was just that little bit better. Every English person wants to beat the Germans. So to do it at the World Cup and walk away with a medal, there is no better feeling.”
Looking ahead to Euro 2017, just how far can England go after your impressive World Cup campaign?
“I think we have to be realistic about it. It is two years away; we have got a lot of preparation to do. People are going off the World Cup and going, “We are going to win it”. But we have to take it step-by-step; two years is a long time. Things are going to go right and things are going to go wrong along the way. But if we prepare properly and the right team goes to that tournament, then I have no doubt that we can go and win it.”
Is there added pressure now you are the favourites to win Euro 2017?
“I think that is pressure that we invite now. I think as a nation; we have to invite that pressure if you want to go and win World Cups and Euros. You have to expect pressure like that. And I definitely think we can handle that pressure now after the World Cup. We are doing things a lot better and we are going into games a lot more prepared and we are excited for the Euros.”
There’s a lot of strong competition in the squad now and Jess Clarke finished as the club’s top goalscorer, with 14 goals this season. Do you think she deserves to return to the England squad?
“Yeah definitely! Jess was involved in the Estonia fixture just last month and she was brilliant. She earned her 50th cap and it was fully deserved. It was disappointing that Jess didn’t get out to the World Cup, but that was obviously a decision that the manager made. But then Jess has just got on with herself, worked hard and scored goals at the club. She is a credit to herself. I think what she has done away from the England camp is the only reason why she will get picked in the future.”
In December, Mark Sampson will celebrate two years as England manager. What have you made of his impact since his appointment?
“Yeah, Mark has been brilliant. For me personally; he gave me the opportunity to represent England at senior level which is everyone’s dream, especially mine. I can only thank him for that. In terms of tactical and technical; he is up there with the best. It showed at the World Cup what he can do against any opposition. We adapted ourselves game-by-game, whether it was system or formation, long ball or short ball, we adapted and it definitely came from him and his staff. I think he has improved me as a player as well.”
What is he like to work under?
“He is quite chilled. Obviously he is quite young and relaxed. We know when it is time to do work and when it is time to relax. He is very open minded. He is always open for a chat if you need to, whether that is about football or personal stuff. I think he is great. He is a good football manager and he will be really good in the future.”
Finally, FIFA 16 features women’s football for the first time in its history. What have you made of England’s addition to the game?
“Yeah it is an unbelievable achievement. Not only for England to get on it; but for other nations to get on it, like Desiree [Scott], who plays for us. She is on it with Canada, so it is a credit to herself. I think it is brilliant. I have actually played it and I think it is really good.”
Have you checked out your own statistics and likeness on the game yet?
“I haven’t checked out my own stats, no! I didn’t know you could do that. Yeah I have [seen my graphics]. I think it looks quite similar actually. But we were playing whilst out in Estonia and there are quite a few that lookalike and there are some awful ones, i.e [Laura] Bassett!”