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Toni hoping to hit the right notes
 Women's Football News 21 Nov 2014
Toni hoping to hit the right notes - 21 Nov 2014 - Women's Football NewsThe England women's team is now just days away from the ground-breaking match with Germany at Wembley - an occasion that Toni Duggan's been running through her head over and over again. 
But the striker isn't obsessing about scoring the winner before a sell-out crowd; she's more concerned about singing the national anthem.
It's the first time the Lionesses have played at the national stadium and there'll be 55,000 urging them on against the European Champions. The friendly match will also have a huge TV audience.
"I've thought a lot about the national anthem because dealing with that is going to be massive," says Toni, who's netted 14 goals in 23 appearances for her country. "All those people at Wembley - it's going to be emotional and will really show how far we've come.
"Even speaking about it now, I'm so excited. It's probably the only thing I've planned for and thought about. How will I react when the anthem is played? I was going to say I've been practising the words! I'm sure the girls will be singing it loud and proud and our families will be in the stands.
"That's what it means to us and to our families. They've come to fields in the middle of nowhere in front of one man and his dog. They've been there in the cold and now they're at Wembley. Some of them might be in boxes, some of them in a lounge. It's just touching for me, not just to be playing, but to see how your family get treated as well."
An already historic occasion could've been even more significant for the women's game. Ticket sales surprised many and with transport problems in the capital, the decision was made to cap the attendance at 55,000. That figure, already putting the recent men's game against Norway in the shade, could've risen to 90,000 such has been the interest.
It's a point not lost on Toni, who says: "I'm about to play in front of all these people at Wembley, people who've paid for tickets. It's not just an event that's free. We've put in the hard work and we've got our rewards.
"Hopefully it can continue and off the back of this game we can get a lot more support from everyone. I'm really looking forward to it, I'm so excited.
"It really is a dream come true. You've got to appreciate that as a women's footballer, when we were young we went through tough times. People were saying the game would never get there and now look."
Along with her England duties, it's been an action packed year at club level for Toni since joining Manchester City from Everton Ladies. "I've loved every minute of my first season," she says with a smile.
"It's been a rollercoaster but it ended on a high with the win in the Continental Cup. It was a massive achievement for the club, for the team and for everyone that's got behind us. It was a nice way to pay them back with silverware."
Toni and her club teammates can now look forward to training alongside the men at the hugely impressive £200m City Football Academy. The 23-year-old pays particular attention to Sergio Aguero - one of two strikers who've made a big impression on her career.
"I get to see Sergio every week and he's a great player. When I was younger I was always watching Michael Owen. At his peak he was the best around. I'd be out in the street replicating the goals he scored, like in the FA Cup Final. He's definitely one of my idols.
"Now I get kids tweeting me or contacting me on other social media saying they want to be like me, copying my hairstyles. That's what makes it really touching and makes you realise how far you've come yourself and how far women's football has come.
"I never had those role models when I was younger. I probably knew Rachel Yankey and Faye Smith but I didn't really get to see them other than the cup final once a year - that was about it."
Times have changed with Toni Duggan and her England team mates the new poster girls for a generation. And there are busier and surely better times ahead. After the Germany game, Toni and the rest of the squad will have a break before returning to their clubs for pre-season training. A busy domestic season will then be followed by the World Cup next summer, and Toni cannot wait: "I've never been to Canada and my family are planning to come out as well. It's so exciting!"
Interesting times ahead then for a goalscorer who's admired for her movement and fleet of foot on the pitch. Maybe a rumoured background in Morris dancing has something to do with her skills?
"It was years ago and I only did it for about a year," she laughs. "But it is true though yeah. If you asked the other girls though, they wouldn't say I'm the best on the dance floor. They think it's a lie!"
Toni Duggan was talking to Continental Tyres, official partner to England Women and the FA WSL.

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