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Women's Football News
When Steph Houghton makes history by leading out her country before a huge Wembley crowd and the watching TV millions, she won't be feeling pressure, just overwhelming relief that she managed to get tickets for her family and friends.
Fifty five thousand tickets were snapped up for the forthcoming England v Germany tie - the first time the women's team has played at the national stadium - and that figure would've been easily surpassed had transport issues not curtailed capacity.
"I had a real panic with the ticket situation," Steph said. "But I've managed to get all the tickets I needed, so I've got about 30 people coming down from the north east. They always come and watch me whether it's playing for Manchester City or England. They wouldn't miss this game for the earth.
"I'm still getting loads of messages on twitter about tickets - I can't get any more tickets - it's ridiculous!"
Such was demand for the friendly fixture against the two-time World Champions; it's reckoned the attendance would've overtaken the 73,000 who watched Team GB women beat Brazil during the London Olympics. Steph scored the winner that day and believes the women's game is now benefiting from that legacy.
"It's amazing to sell so many tickets," said the 26-year-old centre-back. "But I think it shows just how much promotion we've had for this game and how much women's football has come on, especially over the last two years since the Olympics.
"The interest has grown and the media are trying to push it so it just shows that, as players, we're doing a really good job on the pitch. Behind the scenes, people are promoting it the right way to allow fans to come and enjoy it."
It's been a whirlwind year for the former Sunderland, Leeds and Arsenal star. Now a full time professional, Steph captained City to Continental Cup victory last month and is enjoying the state-of-the-art facilities at the new City Football Academy.
"If you're a young girl now, you've got so many opportunities in women's football. There's a very exciting feeling around women's football and not just among the players.
"The staff and coaches that are coming in to the game want to do it properly and professionally. It's great for the international set up as well as we've got young girls getting coached properly from a young age so hopefully in the future we'll have a lot of stars coming through," Steph added.
After the Germany game, all the players will enjoy their end of season break before reporting back for club duty in the New Year. Then a busy club season will run into next summer's World Cup in Canada.
"The next six months is going to be crucial in how we prepare. We'll have a few friendly games and we've just got to make sure that all the hard work we do in the gym or on the training pitch is worth it when you step out on a World Cup stage."
It's been a long road for the modern day 'Gregory's Girl' - Steph played in the boy's team at her County Durham primary school - and she's convinced the game is on the cusp of something special.
"We aspire to be the best professionals on and off the pitch and we are lucky that we can call this our job. If you'd said that to me five or six years ago I'd have laughed.
"But it has changed. We now have to make sure we have a really competitive league in England and internationally we're consistently qualifying for big tournaments which shows improvement. We've got bigger steps to take."
Steph Houghton was talking to Continental Tyres, official partner to England Women and the FA WSL.
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