'I don't want to go to the World Cup just as a squad player'

Tuesday 19 May 2015
Katie Chapman has scored eight goals in 85 England appearances

Katie Chapman’s unrelenting desire to perform on the biggest stage is driving her return to the England Women’s set-up.

The midfielder ended a four-and-a-half-year international hiatus when she started the Three Lions’ victory over Australia at the Cyprus Cup in March.

It was Chapman’s first game for her country since September 2010, and the 32-year-old used her time away from the England scene to raise her three children – Harvey, 12, Riley, 6, and Zachary, 1.

The Chelsea captain came back into the fold ahead of the USA friendly in February – and she has gone on to earn a place in Mark Sampson’s squad for next month’s World Cup in Canada.

Chapman said: “I love the bigger games. I love the challenge of going out and performing in those big moments and big matches – that’s when you need to be performing.

“I never really feel that much pressure either. I don’t ever put that much pressure on myself to perform, I just go out there and play the way I play.

(l-r) Amy Turner, Gemma Bonner and Katie Chapman in Cyprus

Amy Turner, Gemma Bonner and Katie Chapman in Cyprus

“I don’t like to over-think things. I just love what I do and I thrive on that challenge. The harder the better.”

Chapman continued: “I’m in a good place at the moment, with both club and country and I’d like to think that is reflected in the football I’ve been playing.

“I’m really enjoying it and hopefully I can take all that into the World Cup.”

Often cited by team-mates as her country’s most effective tournament player, the former Arsenal and Fulham star earned 82 caps during her first spell with England after making her debut against Switzerland in 2000.

However, despite Chapman’s experience, and bubbly personality, she was still apprehensive before her long-awaited return.

She said: “I was actually quite nervous, particularly because I was in the squad for a long time previously.

“A lot has changed in four years. There are a lot of new faces and a lot of youngsters in the squad. It was quite daunting to start with and it took me a while to find my feet again.

“I felt like the new girl. All of the girls helped me settle in again, but I’m one of those players that floats around and likes to talk to everyone anyway. I feel comfortable around all the girls.”

Chelsea captain Katie Chapman in action

Chapman has led Chelsea to The FA Women's Cup Final

Chapman added: “I was looking forward to seeing how different things were under Mark to when I was in the squad last.

“The first thing I noticed was that it was more relaxed. I’d asked the other girls what it was like and that was the first thing they said, too.

“We’ve got a schedule, as we have always had, but we can just take a step back and just get on with whatever you need to get on with. We’ve got a bit of freedom within that and that is a massive plus for me.”

Chapman, who led Chelsea to The FA Women's Cup Final, has added three more caps to her tally under Sampson, all in the successful Cyprus Cup campaign.

But with Fara Williams, Jill Scott, Jordan Nobbs, Jade Moore and Jo Potter all vying for a midfield berth, she has yet to nail down a regular place in the starting line-up – and that is something she is eager to change.

She said: “I’m doing my best to get into that starting 11.

“This is great squad of players and a great group of girls but I don’t just want to go to Canada as a squad player.

“I’ll obviously be a good squad player if that’s what it comes to but I want to be in the team and prove that I’m back in the fold for a reason.

“I didn’t think I’d get the chance to be here again so for me it’s unreal.

“To be selected to play in what will probably be my last World Cup is a bit of a dream really because I never thought I’d get the opportunity again.”

By Glenn Lavery At St. George's Park