Donaster Rovers Belles midfielder Vicky Exley was handed the captain’s armband for the first time on Saturday.
"Tricky is our leader," sang the England players when Doncaster Rovers Belles midfielder ‘Tricky’ Vicky Exley was handed the captain’s armband for the first time on Saturday.
The chant was a humorous response from Exley’s team-mates, but the 28 year-old midfielder’s response was a determined, player-of-the-match performance as England beat Holland 2-1 in Heerhugowaard.
Exley, taking on the skipper’s role in the absence of Arsenal’s Faye White, not only led from the front but also scored England’s first goal and then made a superb saving tackle toprevent a Holland equaliser three minutes from time.
"I thought I did okay," was the too-modest assessment the Donny Belles captain gave herself after what was probably her best performance for England in what was her 38th international appearance.
She had not featured in the starting line-up for over twelve months, but she said: "When you’re given the opportunity to show what you can do you have to make the most of it, and that’s what I tried to do on Saturday.
"Being captain means taking on extra responsibility, but I enjoy doing the job for Donny and I thoroughly enjoyed Saturday even though it’s awesome to know you’re going out to captain your country.
"I only found out I was being given the job 24 hours before the match and I have to say I was surprised, but at the same time I was delighted and it was a great honour and a great experience."
The experience should stand Exley in good stead as she looks ahead to hopefully securing a place in the national squad for the 2005 UEFA Women’s European Championship finals, to be held in England next June.
And if she is indeed involved, the experienced midfielder will head into Euro 2005 feeling confident that England can do themselves proud at what will be the biggest women’s football event ever staged in this country.
"If we can go into the tournament with a fully fit squad," said Exley, "I honestly believe we’ll be in with a great chance.
"On our day we’re a match for anybody, and with home advantage I think we can do really well.
"The fans can be a tremendous help - I can remember playing against Germany in front of nearly 15,000 at Selhurst Park and the backing we got from our supporters really lifted the team.
"We lost 1-0 through an own goal, but we got closer to the best team in the world than we’ve ever got - and with the help of the fans at Euro 2005 I honestly feel we can do something special."