By Alex Stone.
‘Tricky’, as she is affectionately known, featured in two European Championships and one World Cup, amassing 52 international caps in midfield and netting seven goals in the process.
Vicky’s first taste of pulling on the famous Three Lions shirt was a Euro ’97 qualifier away to Italy, which ended in a 2-1 defeat in Calabria in March 1996. The following game, Vicky came off the bench for a certain Hope Powell, and marked her second cap with a goal in a 2-0 away win against Croatia in Osijek.
“I can remember my first call-up,” Vicky told TheFA.com. “I thought it was a wind-up. I was working for Rotherham United’s Football in the Community Scheme and someone took a phone message. I’d only been playing for Donny Belles about twelve months, so I had no expectations at that stage of being in the frame.”
That qualifying campaign ended in disappointment as Spain pipped England to a place in the Championship finals, but four years later Vicky was selected for the Euro 2001 squad, playing in one of the three group games, a 3-0 defeat to Germany.
Euro 2005 saw record crowds as England hosted the tournament in the North West and again Vicky made the final 20, featuring as a second half substitute against Denmark in England’a second group game.
“As players it’s always a proud moment to be selected for a tournament squad, but you’d be lying if you said you were disappointed if you didn’t make the starting eleven each time. That tournament was so frustrating for all of us as the difference between success and failure was so small.
“What we learnt from that tournament though was to be invaluable in the qualification process for the World Cup.”
England of course upset the form book by qualifying ahead of favourites France and Vicky played her role, featuring in every squad and playing in three of the eight qualifiers.
That included opening the scoring in a vital 2-0 home win against Hungary, a game that until then had seen England frustrated by opponents desperate to avenge a 13-0 defeat earlier in the group phase.
Vicky’s 50th cap was earned in January’s China Cup in a 0-0 draw against the world and European champions Germany, and she bowed out of international football, watching on helplessly from the bench as the USA ended England’s World Cup dreams in China.
In their final group game, Vicky achieved a lifelong ambition. “For any player, male or female, scoring in a World Cup would have to be up there, and to come on and then score a penalty against Argentina was fantastic and a difficult moment to top.
“I’ve had an amazing time representing my country, and after the World Cup in China, I felt it was maybe the right time to step aside. There’s some great young players coming through like Jill [Scott] and I’m keen to go back to my coaching badges and see where that may take me.”
England’s Head Coach Hope Powell who played alongside Vicky as well as coached her said: “Vicky is truly a great role model for any aspiring footballer. Her attitude, commitment and dedication should be commended having devoted herself to everything she has so deservedly achieved in the game.
“I would personally like to thank Vicky for all her efforts throughout the years and indeed proved why she merited representing her country in the recent World Cup.
“We have spoken at length and Vicky is keen to stay in the game, continuing to influence the game through coaching and playing for Doncaster and I am sure she will continue to be a great role model and asset to both.”
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