Former Sheffield United pair Ellie Roebuck and Millie Bright discuss their journeys from Sunday League to Tokyo Olympics
Former Sheffield United pair Ellie Roebuck and Millie Bright will be bursting with pride when they don the Team GB outfit at the Tokyo Olympics this summer.
But both players still have vivid memories of their first football kits when their journeys to the top echelons of the women’s game began on the muddy playing fields in and around the Steel City.
For Bright, a four-time WSL winner with Chelsea, it was the navy blue strip with flashes of yellow at the sides worn by her Sunday League team Killamarsh Dynamos.
"Sheffield United’s kit for sure,” is the enthusiastic response from dyed-in-the-wool Blade Roebuck, now firmly established as Manchester City’s first-choice goalkeeper.
“I’m a huge Sheffield United fan. Growing up that was definitely the first kit I was put in and probably wasn’t allowed out of, and practically spent all my youth years running around in.
"Being a goalkeeper I loved Paddy Kenny, he was just the goalkeeper that I grew up watching.”
Roebuck was raised in Beighton and played in goal for the local boys team, Beighton Magpies, from the age of six before joining Sheffield United’s academy.
She was 12 years old when Great Britain entered a women’s football team into an Olympic Games for the first time at London 2012 and remembers it well, though not for the obvious reasons.
"It’s quite a funny story – I remember getting called up to my first England camp, which was around the time London 2012 was kicking off and it was under-15s,” the 21-year-old tells The Star.
"I’d actually booked to go on holiday, it was my first call up and I’d never really expected it. I remember having to fly out and meet my mum on holiday with my dad.
"I got the GB kit but they didn’t have any of the football kit left so I ended up with the multi-sport kit and I remember running through the airport fully kitted out after camp to meet up and my case got stolen.
“I ended up spending the whole first few days in this kit before I could buy any more clothes. I spent the majority of my holiday in that kit.”
After avoiding an outfit fiasco this time round, how’s she feeling about taking part in her first major international tournament?
"It’s something that I can’t really describe because it does feel so surreal. I just remember feeling so, so proud and happy.
"It’s something I never thought would be possible.”
Roebuck’s mum Julie cried down the phone when her daughter FaceTimed with the news she had been selected to represent Team GB.
London-based Bright also shared the good news with her family back home over FaceTime.
Despite all her achievements at club level and international experience with England, she admitted the prospect of playing at an Olympic Games still hasn’t sunk in.
"It's still a bit of a pinch me moment and I think it will be like that until we get out there,” the 27-year-old said.
“It’s a huge moment and it’s not something that’s taken lightly so I’m feeling really proud and grateful.
"We have certainly got the ability to go on and win golds.”