Stephanie Jane Houghton popularly known as Steph Houghton is a British football player born on April 23, 1988, who plays as a midfielder and the center back position for Manchester City as well as England’s Women National Soccer team. She serves as a captain for both squads.
Steph Houghton: Early Life
Being born in a sporting family – her father, Len Houghton was a semi-professional football player and also happens to be her biggest motivation, while her mother Amanda Houghton worked in Durham during her childhood. It was natural for her to choose a career in the same path. She began kicking the ball around the house right from when she could walk.
Growing up, Houghton had to try out different sports in the bid to find her passion before finally settling for football and channeling all her energy towards it.
At the age of nine, Houghton got scouted for the first time and had to begin training with people much older than she was because there were no little teams at her level. She played for the school team, local football clubs, and Sunderland. Her parents made sure that she didn’t miss an opportunity to play, they accompanied her to summer camps at Sunderland so she could get quality practice.
Having her parents nudging her positively, supporting and encouraging her, Houghton threw in all her energy to working hard and training persistently thereby working her way up the too of the professional ladder and establishing herself as one of the best-center-halves in the game.
On the International frontier, Houghton trained with England’s U16 Schools and played at the U19, U20, U21, and U23 levels. In 2006, she joined the senior national team.
Sadly, she had to withdraw from the cup as a result of her broken leg, and later in 2009, she missed the Euro Cup because of a torn cruciate ligament.
Regardless of her injuries, Houghton went on to become part of the first 17 women footballers to receive central contracts from the Football Association. In 2014, it was announced that she would be taking over as captain of the Female National Team and recently received her 100th cap for England.
The player haven made 100 caps for the National team, was called up to wear the national colors in 2007. She is held in high regard for her ability to give in all her best in a game, even risking injuries if need be.
The star player also represented her home country at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Houghton was the highest goalscorer for the squad and was pronounced as the left-back of the tournament as a result of her brilliant performance in the games.
Houghton’s versatility in the field is not at all common. Despite starting off as a striker, she went ahead to becoming a midfielder and also putting up an impressive performance before moving further back into defense.
Regardless of whatever position she finds herself in, Houghton possesses the strength and ability of which not many players can boast of. Her performance in the field has always been an impressive one.
In 2016, she was appointed a member of the Order of British Empire for her selfless services to football during the New Year’s Honours.
Steph Houghton: Professional Career
Houghton’s professional career began in Sunderland FC where she played for five years.
In the 2005 season, she led the team to get an upgrade from the Northern Division. Following that, she received the FA young player of the Year award the next season.
Houghton ended up signing with Leeds United Ladies after relegation. There, she helped the team claim the 2010 FA Women’s Premier League Cup, before moving on to Arsenal later in the season.
In 2008, she became one of the eight digital ambassadors who had their Twitter handles inscribed in their shirts to create more buzz and awareness about the Women’s Soccer League. And in 2013, she signed a transfer deal to Manchester City and continues to play for the club today.
Personal Life – Relationship
Houghton’s relationship status changed on June 21, 2018, after she tied the knot with her long-time boyfriend and former Liverpool defender; Stephen Darby. The two dated for a three and half years before walking down the aisle.
Her husband was a defender for the Bolton Wanderers before he was diagnosed with motor Burton disease in September 2018 and was forced to retire at the early age of 29.
However, the couple is happily living together and the union is blessed with a son named; Jasper.
Image source: FAWSL