Defender Hayley Crackle was enjoying her first season at Coventry United before lockdown, having joined the newly promoted Championship side in the summer. Crackle spent the previous 15 years at her childhood club Aston Villa.
Her transfer to Coventry has given her a new lease of life following a final season at Villa marred by injury and she's looking to push for a return to the Northern Ireland squad. We caught up with her about her football journey and how she's coping with lockdown.
What's your earliest football memory? Playing football with the boys every break time, before school and after school while I was in reception.
What made you fall in love with football? My Dad playing with me in the garden as a kid, taking me to kids football camps and to Villa Park to watch Villa when I was younger.
What's your greatest footballing achievement so far? I would say playing for Northern Ireland. International football is so special and it’s hard to describe the feeling of standing their singing the national anthem before a game.
What's been the toughest challenge of your career so far? Probably my injury last season at Villa, you are in such a lonely place. But it made me appreciate the little things in the game so much more and now I can really relate and sympathise with players who are going through long term injuries themselves too.
What football dreams would you like to accomplish?
I’d love to get back involved with the Northern Ireland set up in the near future and I’ve always wanted to get further than a quarter final in the FA Cup.
What are you missing most about the game? Having an end goal, like who we’re playing, to work towards each week or month.
What's your lockdown routine like? I work 6am to 12 noon or 3pm, depending on the day, five to six days a week. Then I’ll come home and train and spend time with my family. I'm really enjoying having time to experiment with baking and cooking during this time too. So it's pretty basic but I'm thankful I have a set routine.
What are you most looking forward to about playing again? Seeing my teammates and the staff again.
QUICK FIRE ROUND
Who do you support? Aston Villa
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Best game you've ever seen live? USA vs Canada at Old Trafford in the 2012 Olympics. The semi-final ended 4-3 to the US.
Best goal you've ever scored? Christ, I’ve not scored in the Championship ever! My favourite assist would be this season against Villa in the Conti Cup. It was a free kick but my teammate Shannon (O'Brien) did all the hard work, finishing it off with a nice header.
Number one tip you'd give to an aspiring player Watch as much football as you can, no matter what league, male, female, youth etc. Pick a player in your position or opposing position and analyse them. It teaches you so much about the game, things you don’t necessarily see when you’re in a match yourself.
Sum up football in one word for you