Lianne Sanderson: Move back to America an 'amazing' experience

By Jo CurrieBBC Sport
Lianne Sanderson
Sanderson says she cannot see herself moving back to England in the future

England striker Lianne Sanderson says America is "the best place" for her career to thrive following her move to Portland Thorns in August.

The 27-year-old joined the National Women's Soccer League side after an eight-month second spell with Arsenal Ladies, following her bronze medal with the Lionesses at the World Cup.

Sanderson admits she is happier, on and off the pitch, in the USA.

"It's been the most amazing experience I've ever had," she told BBC Sport.

Happier and healthier

Thorns is the fourth US side that Sanderson has represented, having previously played for Boston Breakers, DC United Women and Philadelphia Independence, as well as gaining experience in Spain and Cyprus.

"We get 22,000 fans at every game, we're sold out," she said.

"My first home game was bit of a whirlwind, when I came on it's a moment I'll never forget - the cheer was just unbelievable.

"I know the best place for me is in America, the professionalism is just unbelievable and the environment is one I thrive in - I just feel like it's healthier.

"I'm probably happier in my life now than I've been in a long time."

Another level

Alex Morgan (right) and Christine Sinclair (left)
With international stars Alex Morgan and Christine Sinclair in the squad, Portland won the NWSL in 2013

At Thorns, Sanderson joins an already impressive team, which includes fellow World Cup stars Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath (USA), Christine Sinclair (Canada), Nadine Angerer (Germany), as well as her England team-mate Jodie Taylor.

"Just being able to train with the calibre of players I have been, it pushes me to another level," she said.

"When I came, I had a lot of friends on the team already so I didn't feel any pressure to prove my worth as the girls know my capabilities because I've got quite a big name in America.

"That's not in a big headed way but people do know what I'm capable of.

"No-one made me feel like they didn't want me there, even if I was coming to play in their position, they know by having me there we can get better and grow together.

"That's why I think the Americans are so successful, because they are not threatened by people being good."

Arsenal departure "unfortunate"

During her first stint with the Gunners, she won five league titles, four FA Cups and the Uefa Women's Cup in 2007.

However, after spending five years away playing in America, Sanderson says she found it too hard to readjust to life back in London.

LIanne Sanderson
Sanderson made six appearances in her second spell with Arsenal

"It was unfortunate it didn't work out," she said.

"Personally, I just didn't feel happy in England, it was too much of a change of lifestyle for me and it wasn't because anyone at Arsenal made me feel unhappy.

"I certainly didn't come back to Arsenal to only be there for a few months and leave after the World Cup but I didn't know how difficult it was going to be.

"I'm not going to make statements that I can't back up but I can't really see myself coming back home to England."

No question marks over England future

Sanderson played a key role in England claiming the bronze medal at this summer's World Cup, winning the decisive penalty in the third/fourth placed play-off win over Germany.

Despite being rested by manager Mark Sampson for the forthcoming England Euro 2017 qualifier against Estonia, Sanderson insists her move back to America will not affect her England chances.

"Mark's going to pick the best players for that moment and I don't feel that being in America is a hindrance to my international career," Sanderson said.

"All of our games are on the internet, most of them are on television and there's people that Mark has scouting in America.

"He knows that me being in America is better for me personally and I have a good relationship with Mark.

"It doesn't cross my mind that I'm never going to get picked for England again."

Lianne Sanderson
Sanderson has scored 15 goals in 49 appearances for England