Back to the start
by Glenn Lavery
Friday, 10 September, 2010
Katie Chapman ready for Switzerland, who she debuted against in 2000.
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Katie Chapman is coming towards the end of her first full season in America with Chicago Red Stars, and over the last week the midfielder’s focus has been on helping her native country qualify for next summer’s Women’s World Cup.
A two-legged play-off against Switzerland stands in the way of England and an appearance at Germany 2011. Although Chapman believes this tie will provide a stern test she has fond memories of facing the Swiss, having made her senior team debut against them back in May 2000.
“It was just great to get on to make my debut,” she said, looking back on her maiden England appearance. “I’d sat on the bench for a little bit before then, so it was nice to get on and get a game.”
Ten years on from that day at the Memorial Stadium, though, Chapman is more concerned with coming away from Sunday’s first leg with a win, rather than just getting on the pitch. With 80 caps under her belt, the former Arsenal, Charlton and Fulham starlet has become a key member of Hope Powell’s squad and she scored the crucial winner over Spain in April as England defeated their closest Group Five rivals 1-0 at The Den.
She has also become an instant hit in the States, starting 21 of Chicago’s 24 League games.
“It’s been a great experience,” Chapman said of her time with the Red Stars. “The whole league – every game’s inconsistent, anyone can beat anyone else. It’s strange, but it’s great because you go into every game knowing it’s going to be so tough and that it could go any way.
“You lose a game and you could go down to the bottom of the table, then you could win a game and move back up to third or fourth place – it’s crazy. I love that challenge though, knowing we’ve got to work hard to get results.”
England’s opponents topped their World Cup qualifying group with 21 points, defeating a talented Russia side 2-1 away from home in the process. Having drawn 2-2 with Béatrice Von Siebenthal’s side in the Cyprus Cup in March, Powell has told her charges to expect a tricky encounter at Greenhous Meadow Stadium.
“We know it’s going to be tough,” Chapman concurred. “Switzerland are a good side, but we’ll go out and give it our best shot. It’s been a long time since I played against Switzerland – I didn’t go to the Cyprus Cup. Hope’s gone through [the 2-2 in Cyprus] with us, shown us different clips, and we’ll just go out and do what we can.”
Should England progress from this play-off they will take their place at the top table of women’s football, an occasion Chapman is relishing already.
“It would be unreal,” she said. “We’ve got a great squad and we’re looking good, playing quite well at the moment, which is nice, and we need this – we deserve to be at the World Cup.
“But it’s going to be a hard game – away goals count as well so it might be quite nerve-wracking, but it’s exciting, and in Germany it’s going to be unbelievable. The atmosphere when we play there anytime is fantastic – even at Euro 2001 over there the atmosphere was fantastic, so I can imagine what it’s going to be like next year.
“It’s another massive tournament and we’ve just got to go out and perform to get there – we want to be there and to do well.”