Esme Morgan joined City at Under-15s level, having trialled for the Club.
The lifelong City fan soon progressed to the U16s Regional Talent Squad and then the Development Squad, before she was selected by Nick Cushing to accompany the first-team on their pre-season tours of Frankfurt and Toulouse.
Within the space of seven days, the teenager made her first-team debut for her beloved football club and received outstanding GCSE results - eight A*s, one A and one B.
Her first appearance – a composed display in Frankfurt – impressed the manager enough for him to immediately add her (and fellow Development Squad starlet Beth O’Donnell) to the midweek trip to France for the Toulouse International Ladies Cup, where they would face Montpellier and Champions League winners Lyon.
The TILC adventure heralded the return of City’s international stars to Club duty, following their European Championship exploits, meaning Morgan and O’Donnell would be training and playing alongside their idols.
Against Montpellier, she produced a solid and fearless performance, staking a claim for a starting spot against the reigning European champions two days later.
Morgan settled in quickly to the squad – both on the pitch and off it. Eager to learn, she accepts advice from their teammates and has remained grounded throughout.
Ever-smiling, she describes herself as relaxed, sociable and cheerful – that certainly suits Cushing’s recruitment policy of ensuring his players are positive, friendly individuals, which he deems as crucial as their footballing ability.
On the pitch, she is comfortable in possession, calm and assured. She likes to venture forward and actually started out as a striker, before City realised her potential in a defensive role. She was then employed at centre-back but has also operated as a defensive midfielder. In France, she occupied the right-back position.
She insists she has no preference for a spot though, as long as she’s involved.
Her efforts in training and against the French side were rewarded and the teenager was selected to line up against some of Europe’s best players in a thrilling encounter against Lyon, which saw City snatch a dramatic 3-2 triumph.
There are not many 16-year-olds who can say they have faced the likes of Eugenie Le Sommer, Dzsenifer Maroszan, Saki Kumagai et al…
Sheffield born in the millennium year, Morgan has lived in Yorkshire but gains her love of City through her Mancunian parents.
Esme jokes she would only attend long walks with her family if they took along a football and often played sport in the garden with her brother. (He’s better at badminton, apparently!)
She began her football career, aged four, with Ecclesall Rangers boys’ team. She remained at the club to Under-16s level, whilst also representing Worsbrough Bridge girls for a year alongside.
Although she received some criticism in the early years, Morgan was unfazed and earned the respect of her peers through her talent and passion for the beautiful game.
Now learning under a manager who has led City to success in every domestic trophy and the Champions League semi-finals, and playing alongside experienced international stars such as England captain Steph Houghton, Morgan is hungrier than ever to absorb all she can to aid her development.
Intelligent, mature and humble, Morgan is focusing on her short-term ambitions but the youngster also has experience on the international stage and hopes to follow in the footsteps of her City teammates, representing her country at senior level in years to come.
One of manager Cushing’s passions is developing talent. City have a squad which boasts a mixture of youth and experience, with a clear pathway for budding female footballers to follow.
Training at the same facility as their heroines, with the Academy Stadium – the 7,000-seater home of the domestic treble winners – a beacon of inspiration, what better motivation could there be?
Should she continue her rate of progression over the next few months, the City faithful may see and hear a lot more of Esme Morgan: the lifelong Blue who’s living the dream…