England midfielder Jordan Nobbs to follow in father's footsteps

By Matt NewsumBBC Sport
Jordan Nobbs excited by 'homecoming'
Friendly: England women v Sweden women
Venue: Victoria Park, HartlepoolDate: Sunday, 3 AugustKick-off: 14:00 BSTCoverage: Full commentary on BBC 5 Live Sports Extra

Keith Nobbs has never seen his daughter Jordan play for England in the flesh.

It is then a happy coincidence that he will do so for the first time on the very pitch he graced as a Hartlepool United player, for whom he played 327 times.

England's women play Sweden in a friendly at Victoria Park on 3 August as a prelude to their World Cup qualifier against Wales later that month, and Nobbs is in the 23-strong squad.

"I'll be very proud," 52-year-old Keith told BBC Sport.

"I've only seen her on the TV. I saw her make her debut in the Cyprus Cup and I've followed her games in preparation for the World Cup.

"I played here for eight years and for my daughter to come back and play on the same pitch will be fantastic."

Jordan is one of a crop of women from north-east England playing in the Women's Super League and involved at international level along with Lucy Bronze, Demi Stokes, Jill Scott and current England skipper Steph Houghton.

Their success was a factor in bringing the ladies team to the region, and a unique opportunity for family to get a rare glimpse on familiar soil.

"One thing you always love is your family watching you, and to play on the same pitch where he kicked a ball as well gives me extra pride," midfielder Jordan said.

"I think the first thing we all wanted to do was tell our families.

Keith Nobbs 'proud' of daughter call-up

"It's massive for the North East and it's great for a women's game to be up here."

Nobbs' journey from kick-abouts in the garden to England honours was nurtured by her father, whose involvement in grassroots football has continued with his role in running the Hartlepool United Community Sports Foundation.

"From the age of 12 she went to FA Development centres all the way through the holidays. She had specialist coaching two nights a week right the way through her youth and she's very dedicated," he said.

"We run courses through the holidays here and she used to come down with me to them all.

"She'd play all the games - you could see her ability, balance and co-ordination was very good even then.

"We put her into a local team because she was very keen and she's just moved on from there."

Sunderland handed Stockton-born Jordan a debut at the age of 16 in the FA Women's Premier League North, and that same season she featured in the Black Cats' FA Cup final defeat by Arsenal at Derby's Pride Park.

The following season saw Nobbs gain individual honours with the 2010 FA Young Player of the Year award, prompting the interest of then-Arsenal boss Vic Akers.

Moving to the capital brought European experience with a run to the Champions League semi-finals and, after numerous call-ups to the side, a first senior England cap in March 2013.

"I think as a child you always want to [play for England] and maybe at the time you don't think you can," Jordan said.

"When you get that first call-up to the seniors it's massive, and once you start you will literally do anything to get back in the team.

"I'm so glad I stuck in with football now when I was a youngster."

Highlights: England 2-0 Wales

While England's male senior side are camped at Wembley for all home internationals, their female counterparts take their games on the road with recent fixtures played at Shrewsbury, Brighton and Millwall.

"Women's football has grown massively and the only way in which it can is if we go out there and promote it properly," Nobbs continued.

"Going around the country and playing in different areas will only encourage more girls to come and watch and see us play.

"I think it would be nice to be at Wembley every week, but to play around the country and the buzz of coming back home to play at Hartlepool has been just as exciting."

Increased interest in the women's game has brought players like Nobbs, Houghton and Scott into the public consciousness, not to mention more media attention - particularly with the television deal that was agreed for the Women's Super League.

"I really like it. If we can encourage more of that [media attention] then I think we should," Nobbs said.

"A lot of the girls do players appearances every month. It's something we like to do and interact with the kids.

"After the game we are always happy to sign autographs. You get a lot of interaction and I think it's something we need to encourage even more."

With two England goals to her name already, and a near one-in-four strike-rate for her club, Nobbs could be forgiven for preparing a special celebration for Sunday's game.

"I am not going to make any of those to my dad or anything like that," she laughed.

"I'm sure we'll all just celebrate together."

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