England footballer Nikita Parris on embracing pressure and looking forward to the future
This is an exciting time to be an England fan because – check this – several of our teams are actually good!
The men reached the semi-finals of the World Cup in 2018 (something that’s only sunk in now that we’ve typed it out), the women came third in 2015, while the men’s under 20s won the World Cup in 2017. The dark days of not qualifying for, say, the 1994 World Cup or 2008 European Championships seem a lifetime ago.
Given it’s a dream time to be an England fan and with the women among the favourites for the 2019 World Cup, we sat down with one of the best players to currently wear the Three Lions: England hot-shot Nikita Parris…
You go into the tournament as one of the favourites; how does that feel?
It’s certainly an amazing feeling but I don’t think any of the girls will feel pressured by that. We’ll just accept what it is and go out and play our own game.
What does playing in a World Cup mean to you?
It’s my first World Cup so the feeling will be incredible. It’s every girl and boy’s dream to play in one so I’ll be super excited if I get selected.
What role has Serena Williams played in terms of being an inspiration?
I’m a massive fan! Serena understands that her influence extends off the court and she’s involved in amazing charity work that improves the lives of children and adults around the world. It’s Important young girls have a strong role model to look up to. I’m a big tennis fan too, so if anyone’s got any Wimbledon tickets then let me know!
Phil Neville has always come across as such a life-affirming guy – what is he like to play under?
He’s amazing and gives you the confidence to go out and express yourself. He’ll tell you to be free, brave and take the risks because otherwise, you’ll never get the rewards you deserve.
What has been his greatest speech/moment to date?
I’d say before the USA game in the SheBelieves Cup. We were up against the top team in the world but he told us that we were just as good as them and that we should never underestimate the
power of our team. He really brought us together by emphasising that everyone in the squad would have a key role to play on the day. We came away with 2-2 draw and went on to lift the cup!
When England win the World Cup and the movie is made, who plays Nikita Parris please? We’ve got James McAvoy as the gaffer.
Oh, tough question! I’d say Saana Lathen. She’s great in Love and Basketball, which is my favourite movie.
You’re an inspiration to youngsters everywhere – how does that feel?
It’s surreal. Each and every day you’re just going out and trying to be yourself, so you don’t really see how much it can mean to people until they tell you on social media. Inspiring young people is a very important part of being a pro footballer and it’s great to know that we’re helping to grow the women’s game.
Has another lethal Toxteth and ex-England striker – Robbie Fowler – ever been in touch? If so, did he offer any advice?
No, we’ve never spoken unfortunately! I would love to chat to him though, I used to watch his videos on YouTube.
You’re in danger of personally having more trophies and awards than Meryl Streep – where do you keep them all please?
Mum has a cabinet where she keeps most of them, then if they don’t fit, she puts them in the loft! She always says to me “I can’t have all that dust everywhere love!”
I know it’s a long way off, but is there a secret ambition after you hang up your boots? Beckham dabbled in acting. Fowler owns half of Liverpool. Alex Scott is smashing punditry. How about you, Nikita?
I’d really like to work with the next generation as either a coach or a youth leader. I’d love to help young people and grow the women’s game.
How do you cope with pressure?
To be fair I just embrace it, try to be myself and go out to do what I’ve got to do. I accept it’s part of the game!
What do you do for balance?
I love to hang out with friends and family. Playing from Manchester City means I’m away from my home in Liverpool, so when I get some spare time I really enjoy checking in to see how they’re all
Head & Shoulders, Official Hair Care Partner of the England Teams, spent time with Nikita as she perfected her new #JUSTWATCHME celebration