My Week: Faye White
The England women's football team captain on leading her squad to the European Championship final in Finland this week
Saturday 12 September 2009
Last week I dislocated and fractured my cheekbone during the European Championship quarter-final against Finland. Although we won I had to be flown back to England from Finland, where the championship is taking place. I had an operation before returning to Finland.
I couldn't play in the semi-final yesterday but we won the match and we're in the final on Thursday which I've been given the go-ahead to play in. Today I do a light training session, which is good to test how my face feels when I'm running as it's still a bit swollen.
We move hotels from Tampere to Helsinki for the final. Throughout the tournament we've stayed in five hotels and played in every stadium so there's a fair bit of travelling involved. In the afternoon we have another light training session.
We relax a lot today ahead of the final tomorrow: having massages, playing table tennis and discussing strategies. I had a protective face mask to play in made in London which arrives today. Everyone says I look like the Phantom of the Opera. I wear it around the hotel to get used to it but I think I scare a few of the other residents. In the evening we watch the England men's qualifier on TV. There's a nice spirit between the two teams. Players such as Rooney, Beckham and Terry have sent us video messages wishing us luck for the final.
The match is not till 7pm so we spend the day relaxing and going for a team walk. I know I'm about to play in the biggest game of my life so I feel a bit emotional. I just want to remember and savour everything. I have my pre-game meal of chicken, mashed potato and toast: I've had it before every game here and I've become superstitious. The match itself is hard. We start well but in the end the Germans are too strong and we lose 6-2. Obviously we're disappointed but I don't think the score does our team justice. If people see the headlines they'll think it was a walkover but it wasn't like that. A lot of their players have played in three or four major finals like this, but it's the first for everyone in our squad. In 2005 we didn't even get out of the group stage so we're thrilled with how far we've come. We have to remember all we've achieved and we have a bit of a celebration.
I do a few interviews, have some lunch and then get the plane back to London. I hope our experience has a positive influence on the perception of women's football. It's slowly getting more recognition. The FA is far more supportive and it's putting more money into the game. We're now on central contracts which allow us to give up our other jobs or just work part time. Before, lots of the squad were just having their costs covered; some were even losing money. It means we can train harder and put our all into it.
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