Defining Moments

Demi Stokes

In celebration of her 29th birthday, Demi Stokes shares the key moments that shaped her career...


First footballing memory

My first memory of football is playing it in primary school.

I started playing for the boys' team and I used to get laughed at but then I was made captain, which was quite a big thing - when you're young and there's boys on your team but you're the one made captain.

When I was a bit older, I joined Sunderland's Academy and my first team were Sunderland 24/7, which was an all-girls team who played in a boys' league.

Playing for the Academy, you always wanted to play for Sunderland's senior team. Steph Houghton, Jill Scott and Carly Telford all played for the first-team and most weeks, we'd go and watch them play, which seems weird now!

*

First Club

My first Club was Sunderland Women.

At the time, I was playing for the Academy and the signing-on rules changed so I had to wait a year before I could sign properly - when I was 16.

Signing for them was a big moment. It's something I'd always wanted to do.

Senior debut

My first-team debut was for Sunderland. I must have been about 16.

I'm pretty sure it was Stockport County away and I scored on my debut!

Don't ask me to describe the goal but it was the final goal of a 5-0 win - and an important win in the title race.

Lucy Bronze scored too!

*

First trophy with Sunderland

I won the Northern Premier League with Sunderland.

I'd won trophies at college but in terms of competitive football, that was my first piece of major silverware.

Moving to America

In 2011, I accepted a four-year scholarship to the University of South Florida and moved over to America.

I just wanted to play full-time and train every day and I could do that in the States.

At that time, if you'd have told me that in a few years' time, Clubs in England would have had the facilities we have today, I probably would have laughed a little bit!

It's amazing how the women's game has grown and the support we have from everyone is helping it to grow and move forward.

I went to America with the goal of earning a call-up for England and I was picked in my fourth and final year!

It definitely made me the player I am today.

First international call-up

My first England call-up was for the Under-17s. I was 15 years old.

It was for Denmark away and I remember that's how I met Rachel Daly and Toni Duggan... because there was a spider in the bath!

That's how I got speaking to them! I remember it well!

That was my first camp and there were two games in Denmark.

My first senior call-up was in 2014 against Norway in La Manga.

It was also the first time I played at left-back and I didn't have a clue what I was doing!

Before then, I'd played as a left-winger but Mark Sampson must have thought I had the attributes to get up and down the wing. He tried me at left-back and that's where I've played since!

Thinking about it now, if I'd have stayed at left-wing, I'd possibly not have been as effective or played as many games in my career...

*

First international goal

My first and only goal for England!

It was against Montenegro in Brighton’s stadium.

It was a big win - we actually won 9-0 - but it's a long time ago!

Maybe there's one due...?

Signing for City

Signing for City was a dream come true.

I'd always wanted to play professionally and to do it with a great Club like City was an amazing opportunity.

When I joined, I remember thinking the facilities were second to none and that it was great to see women's football treated the same as the men's game. It's exactly the type of Club I want to play for.

I still have to pinch myself to say this is my job! It doesn’t feel like a job – you come in every day and you put your kit on and your boots on and it’s fun. It's something I don’t take lightly – I know there are probably a million girls who would want to be in this position so it's very special.

We've had a lot of success since and long may it continue.

First City goal

My first City goal was against Chelsea in May 2016.

It was the first goal in a 2-0 win and an important one at the time.

It was a decent finish to be fair. Although I didn't think it was anything special, some people did ask afterwards if I used to be a forward!

It was more the meaning of it because it was an important win against our title rivals and it was a big statement.

First trophy with City

My first trophy with City was the FA Women's Super League title in 2016.

That whole season was so good and so enjoyable, and to win the title in the fashion we did - going unbeaten all season - made it that more special.

I think we only conceded three goals all season! I remember it was drilled into the back four: 'don't concede!'

The fact we won the title at home against Chelsea made it even better.

We didn't have too much time to enjoy it because the Continental Cup Final wasn't long after - I think both games were in the space of a week - so my first two trophies with City were close.

That was a really special season and we've picked up the odd trophy since then!