Arsenal's diminutive striker Ellen Maggs has received her first call-up to the E
Arsenal's diminutive striker Ellen Maggs has received her first call-up to the England team for the crucial World Cup Play-Off Final against France next Saturday, November 16th. The call-up came on Monday following her team-mate Kirsty Pealling's withdrawl from the side due to work commitments.
Maggs, a popular player in the England youth teams, was understandably ecstatic at the news. "I got a phone call from Clare Wheatley, my team-mate at Arsenal, telling me I wasn't in the Under-19s anymore, which I thought was weird because I know I'm too old for them. Then she told me I couldn't because I was in the senior squad. Then I got a call from The FA to tell me.
"I panicked at first! I thought the call-up was a long way away. Everyone kept telling me it would be soon, but I thought it would be maybe a year from now."
Maggs has earned herself a reputation as one of England's hottest young properties following her brace in front of Sky Sports cameras in the FA Community Shield in August, but this is the first time that National Women's Coach Hope Powell has called her into the senior set-up. She stands at just over five feet and wears size three shoes, but she's one of the fastest players in England and can capture the hearts of a crowd in just one mazy run on goal.
"Vic Akers (Arsenal manager) always told me that I am a big talent, but I never believed him until I got the goals in the Community Shield. It's all gone on from there with England doing so well at the Under-19 World Championship in August and then with Arsenal in the UEFA Cup. People keep telling me that I'm playing well and asking if I was going to get a call-up, but all I've been doing for Arsenal is running a lot."
Maggs has been in stunning form this season for the reigning champions Arsenal Ladies, creating a new strike partnership with Angie Banks after Marieanne Spacey left for Fulham in the summer. Her sign-off for the England U19 team was scoring two goals en route to a place in the final eight at the FIFA World Championship in Canada in August, where she hit local headlines in British Colombia for her exciting style of play.
It shouldn't take Maggs long to settle into her new surroundings either when she meets up with the senior squad at Burnham Beeches, Bucks, on Monday evening. She will see many familiar faces from the Arsenal squad, as well as old friend Fara Williams from the Under-19s. She'll also know National Coach Powell and her backroom staff from her U19 days.
"I was saying the other day to Jess Wright, former U19 captain, that I wished we were still playing for the Under-19s. We had such a good time in Canada, it was a great experience. We missed out on the recent qualifiers because we are too old. I just can't wait now to see the staff and be involved again. It's going to be a great experience - and good fun too."
The England team will travel to France on Thursday ahead of Saturday's game at the Geoffroy Guichard Stade in Saint Etienne, 3.00pm kick-off (local time). England are trailing 1-0 after the home leg and will need a victory at all costs to progress to the 16-nation World Cup Finals in China in 2003.
It will be a busy month for Maggs, whose Arsenal side face their arch-rivals for the top flight title Fulham in league action this Thursday and then play the return leg of their UEFA Women's Cup quarter-final on November 28th against Russian champions CSK WA Samara, holding a 2-0 away lead.
So, a big season already for the 18-year-old and it's not even halfway through.
"My next step? To win the UEFA Cup with Arsenal. Oh, and to actually play for England! That would be good. I know that I'm just there for the experience this time, but I'll be out there on the training pitch showing what I can do."