Bara Votikova: The YouTube star taking on England

Barbora Votikova
Bara Votikova has more subscribers (450,000) on YouTube than the majority of men's Premier League clubs
Czech Republic v England, international friendly
Venue: Stadion Strelecky ostrov, Ceske Budejovice Date: Tuesday, 12 November Kick-off: 19:15 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC Four, BBC Sport website & app; live text commentary on BBC Sport website & app

Having accumulated 76.2m views and climbing on her YouTube channel, Bara Votikova is a vlogger extraordinaire, as well as being an author, comedian and presenter.

She is also a goalkeeper - the Czech Republic's number one - and is set to face England in Tuesday's friendly in Ceske Budejovice.

Votikova describes herself as "on the one hand a professional footballer, on the other a crazy YouTuber" in the blurb for her book - the title of which translates as 'A Little Different'.

The 23-year-old revealed she is gay in the book, in which she urges readers to "live life exactly the way you want, not take things so seriously and not to be afraid to dream".

So what did the Slavia Prague shot-stopper, who has attracted more than 450,000 subscribers, dream of doing before all this began?

'I'm building my own path'

"When I was younger, I wanted to be an actress," she told BBC Sport. "I always liked to make other people laugh and happy.

"I didn't make it in to any movies or series, so I explored this world of YouTube. I saw that creators were making their own movies, their own comedy sketches and their own characters, so I started doing them on my own.

"I'm building my own path. Maybe one day I'll get to the movie industry and film my own movie."

Introducing her videos - which are predominately comedy sketches - she says viewers can "come up with new ideas and find that girls can play football".

Sponsors have quickly followed, from Adidas to Pepsi, accompanied by club success, with Votikova helping Slavia reach the quarter-finals in Europe in three of the past five campaigns, going out this season to Arsenal in the last 16 of the Women's Champions League on 31 October.

Recovering from a thigh injury, Votikova sat out that first leg against the Gunners, but returned for the second leg and conceded eight times in what eventually turned out to be a 13-2 aggregate defeat.

Regardless of the outcome, she has always expressed pride in the team's record in Europe.

Barbora Votikova
The Czech Republic are ranked 28th in Fifa's women's world rankings

"It's a great success, especially for a team that is not the biggest," Votikova added.

"The competition is huge so we're glad we could make it so far in the Champions League. A lot of top teams in Europe aren't able to make it, so it's an honour to be there."

That game is not her last meeting with English opposition this autumn, with the Czech Republic hosting Phil Neville's Lionesses on Tuesday at 19:15 GMT.

And when playing for her country, Votikova knows she has another platform to inspire women.

"Trying to be an ambassador for women's soccer, it's something I really like," she added.

"People [following me on YouTube] are hopefully starting to like football because of me. That's something I'm trying to build here.

"My social media was never initially about football - it was mostly comedy - and then it became popular so I started to share my football life and a lot of people seemed to like that, so I'm trying to show people how this life of a pro football girl goes."

Hope Solo
The United States' Hope Solo playing in 2015's World Cup (left) and working as a pundit at 2019's World Cup

With her unusual combination of talents, the keeper has a unique pair of idols: Canadian vlogger Lilly Singh - who boats 437 million hits - and American goalkeeping star Hope Solo.

"When I was a kid I used to look up to Hope," Votikova added. "I watched her games, videos and her interviews and admired how good she was and is."

Solo, a World Cup winner in 2015, turned BBC pundit for this summer's tournament in France, and that transition from the pitch to the microphone could become natural for the Slavia Plague star too.

"Punditry would be so interesting for me and, with all the work I'm doing, I have a lot of opportunities and I can choose which path to follow," she continued.

"A TV show connected with football, that would really fit me. It's basically me."

A version of this article was initially published on 30 October 2019.

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