Georgia Stanway

'She scores when she wants'

"I’ve been here for six years now and it’s about time I got a little record in the history books!"
Georgia Stanway, City's top women's goalscorer

When the phone rang in Georgia Stanway's family home one day in early 2015, destiny was calling... The number was unknown - typically cause for caution in the Stanway household - but on this occasion, the call was answered and it proved a defining moment in one young woman's life.

Listening intently to her mother's conversation was fresh-faced, teenager Georgia: a budding footballer from Barrow-in-Furness who plied her trade at Blackburn Rovers' Centre of Excellence, making the four-hour round trip three times a week to play the sport she loved.

At the other end of the phone was Nick Cushing: manager of FA Women's Super League newcomers and professional outfit Manchester City, who had made history the previous year by winning the Continental Cup in their maiden top-flight campaign. What could he want...?

The answer was simple: he wanted Georgia to join the revolution. He had heard about the 16-year-old starlet, who was scoring goals for fun in Lancashire, and ever-passionate about nurturing young British talent, he wanted to help her to reach her full potential - and Stanway could not believe her ears!

Today, she stands proudly as City's top women's goalscorer, having overtaken Nikita Parris in the charts - and she's only 23. Looking back to that momentous day six years ago, the forward has fond memories of the phonecall that changed her life forever.

"It was pretty random!" she laughs. "I was at Blackburn's Girls Academy - Under-17s - and I was getting ready to sign on for my last year. I'd just turned 16 when my mum had this unknown number call...

"Usually, she wouldn't answer as sometimes it can be a bit dubious but me and my brother were in the room so she felt safe and it was Nick. He introduced himself and said he wanted to meet me, and that he wanted me to come and play for City.

"It was all a bit quick but it was all so exciting. My mum said it was fine and that we'd come to Manchester but he said: 'No, no, I'll come to you.' The next day, I got in from school - I was wearing my rucksack and I still had my tie on and my top button fastened because I was Teacher's Pet! - and Nick was sat at my dining room table!

"I was a bit shocked but I thought: 'Well, at least I look smart!' I sat down and didn't really think too much of it. We had a conversation about City - how they play, how they work. I thought he was going to get me to come to the Under-17s or the Development Squad or the Reserves...

"I asked him: 'Is there going to be an opportunity to play in the first-team?' and he looked at me and said: 'Well, I've not come here to pick you for any other team!' It took me back and when Nick left, I just remember running up and down the stairs, screaming: 'I'm going to Manchester! I'm going to Manchester!'"
Georgia Stanway

That meeting truly provided the platform to stardom for Stanway. A matter of months later, she had swapped the countryside for 'City life' and was lining up alongside some of the most decorated, legendary figures in the women's game, including a host of England internationals.

"It was all sorted out pretty quickly," she recalls. "After the girls came back from the 2015 World Cup, I came down to Manchester. I moved in with my host family, who I spent three years with, and enrolled at St Bede's School where the lads were for my last two years of education, and then I trained full-time with the girls. It was unbelievable. Looking back, I was just coming to live my dream and play for City but it's definitely a good story to have and I'm very grateful for it to have happened."

Though it was clear she possessed a pure talent, inspired by her older brother, Stanway found herself completely star-struck during her first few weeks - and painfully shy: a very different proposition to the assured, affable maverick she is now!

"I actually speak now! I remember my first interviews back when I was 16 and I couldn't put a sentence together. I was like a nervous child but the girls have definitely allowed me to come out of my shell. I like having a laugh around the changing rooms!"
Georgia Stanway

Affectionately known as one of the jokers in the squad, constantly teasing and playing pranks, her infectious personality and desire to have fun is beloved amongst her peers - but it's also her 'childlike' love of the game itself that former manager Nick Cushing admired the most.

"Her work ethic, hunger to create and score goals is unrivalled in the league at her age," he said of a teenage Georgia. "She just loves football and I say all the time that if you love the game and want to play, you'll just want to play well.

"She plays the game like she did when she was ten years old, I imagine, and you throw her out there and ask her to do things and when she doesn't do them, you tell her she's doing it wrong. She's just a real good player to work with."
Nick Cushing

Naturally, Stanway says she will be forever grateful for the faith, wisdom and advice he offered as she transformed from 'starlet' to 'superstar' in a very short space of time. In her breakthrough season, she claimed the Club's Rising Star award and continued her trajectory into the next campaign, netting her first senior hat-trick and lifting her first pieces of major silverware in a league and Continental Cup double, making a name for herself as one of the brightest talents and most prolific forwards in the country.

"Nick definitely had a massive impact into the player and person I am today," she reflects. "He's the person that I started off my professional career with and I spent five years working with him. He helped me on the pitch but also off it as well because if you can be comfortable in an environment, that's the best situation.

"It's massive to have a manager show confidence and belief in you at such a young age. I scored my first goal at 16 and I remember it as clear as day: it was on an AstroTurf pitch at Widnes and I'd come on as a sub for the last 15, 20 minutes. The ball was played in behind and I just touched it past the 'keeper. It's one I'll never forget and I'm grateful to Nick for giving me the opportunity to be part of the Club."

Typical of her country upbringing, Stanway has always loved the outdoors and tried her hand at a variety of sports as a child: basketball, cricket, table tennis, athletics... but nothing compared to the love she had of the beautiful game and having trialled for Blackburn's Under-13s, she progressed through the Rovers ranks before storming into the senior side, where she bagged an astonishing 35 goals in 15 games!

Her coach at Blackburn, Amanda Goodwin, remembers the tenacious teen well.

"She first came to Blackburn's Under-13s and trialled with 20 to 30 girls. She stood out with her tenacity and her commitment to football - she went in for every tackle, every goal had to be a brilliant goal."
Amanda Goodwin

"I remember the first time she played for the U13s and someone stamped on her hand but she was amazing - she got up and carried on. That was a really positive memory and she's grown from strength to strength."

Stanway holds her former mentor in equally high regard.

"Amanda was at Blackburn with me and she was somebody who backed me - no matter what," she smiles. "She always pushed me and when I wasn't on it, she always knew how to get me on it. She was able to get the best out of me - on or off the pitch. She helped me on the pitch but I was also able to speak to her about things that were troubling me off-the-pitch. It was good to have that balance and she allowed me to be myself in that environment.

"She helped me to feel confident and that's the biggest thing in our game. Sometimes, it's about going back to basics: not overcomplicating things, trying to make a Hollywood pass when there's a two-yard pass on, and using those first five to ten minutes of a game where you get yourself into it, getting a feel of the game and building confidence.

"That's a big thing for me and Amanda is somebody I'm still in contact with today, which is nice."

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Whatever Stanway goes on to achieve, one thing is for certain: she will never forget her roots. Returning home whenever she can, she retraces the steps of her childhood, playing football on the beach, hiking in the hills or relaxing by the water where she embraces the tranquility and takes time to reflect.

Growing up in a small community, she was well-known locally before she hit the heights of the FA Women's Super League and will be forever thankful for the role her friends, family and neighbourhood played in her career.

"My parents sacrificed a lot," she explains. "The travel, the money... and they were working full-time as teachers. It wasn't an easy lifestyle, trying to juggle but they gave up ten years of their life in order for me to be where I am and I'm so happy that I've turned out half-decent and that it was worth it in the end!

"I had a lot of support in my community as well. Everyone knows now that I'm from a small town but what they might not know is that the community basically got together and backed me, providing funding in order for my mum and my dad to pay for petrol to take me to Blackburn and with free gym memberships so I could keep fit alongside my training.

"They did everything they possibly could to help me to get to where I am today and I'm massively grateful."
Georgia Stanway

Under the stewardship of Gareth Taylor, Stanway has added plenty more strings to her bow. Ever a dependable and willing member of the squad, she has been employed in a variety of positions all over the pitch, developing the defensive side of her game in the process.

A former City striker himself, Taylor warmly described the 23-year-old as 'like a wind-up toy' after a two-goal haul away to Aston Villa - one of her favourite opponents - on the opening day of the 2020/21 campaign. Her selflessness and willingness to deputise where needed has been a key trait of the past two campaigns and her Head Coach has been delighted with her contribution.

“She has been great to work with," he states, "particularly with her attitude and application to try new positions and affecting the play wherever she plays. I am really delighted for her: to become the record scorer for the Club is no easy thing and I think she deserves full credit for that.

"I think it was only matter of time before she actually did it, but it will be pleasing for her and she deserves it because she has worked so hard. She is really key to what we’re doing."
Gareth Taylor

It is that team ethic which many regard as Stanway's best quality, including the woman herself.

"I'd say my best attribute is my passion," she reflects. "I'm passionate in whatever I do. I'll run a mile for anybody, I'll do absolutely anything I can for anybody and I'll just try and give everything I've got - all for the badge, for the girls and for myself. I just try to go out there and not leave anything behind.

"I think something that not a lot of girls know about me is that whenever I go on the training pitch, whenever I go over the line of a match, that's 'work time' and something that I say in my head: 'As soon as I step over that line, it's 'work time'."
Georgia Stanway

"I can have a little laugh and a joke in parts, like if there's a funny moment - say someone takes a ball to the face or something! There can be spur-of-the-moment things where you can have a laugh but it's about knowing that you're on the pitch to work - that's the time when you can get the most out of what you're doing. 'This is what we're here to do: to play football' so I try to utilise the time that I have on the pitch, trying to get the best out of who I am and hopefully, I've got a lot more to give.

"As well as that, I like to play football so I'm not bad technically! I like to pass the ball, I like to be able to switch the play, play the balls in behind and obviously I like to shoot as well which is proven with the record! To be that high up and only be 23 shows I can score goals and it's something I'm really proud of."

Of her record-high tally of City strikes, there have been sensational award-winning efforts: Goals of the Season, Goals of the Month and even Cup Final specials. There have been efforts of every variety, showcasing each trait of her attacking prowess: from long-range rockets to two-yard tap-ins and everything in between.

Having achieved so much already, Stanway has been tipped to achieve great things - her name even mentioned in discussions on future Ballon d'Or winners.

Though flattered to receive such compliments, Stanway remains humble but admits the desire to become the best is a goal that motivates her every day.

"It's just something that potentially could be thrown in the mix but I know that I'm still far off from that," she admitted. "It's a place that I want to head - in that direction - and I want to be in contention.

"I'm definitely still learning. Even the things you say are positives you have to work on because they're the ones that define you as a player. If they're not on form, you're not on form. You have to constantly be working, trying to get things as best you can.

"You can say that 'practice makes perfect' but it's almost like 'perfect practice makes perfect'... Just because you practice something repeatedly doesn't make it right but if you practice something right, you can make right with it."
Georgia Stanway

"I love being a forward and a midfielder, being at the heart of the game: in the middle of it, trying to do the mix, trying to press, trying to defend, trying to do everything that's a bit of me... It's so satisfying as well knowing I've got Keira Walsh behind me, speaking to me - no matter what I'm doing. That feedback can get you through games as well but I'm just happy to be on the pitch, scoring goals and winning games because that's what we live for.

"I want more Player of the Months, I want to play on the biggest stage possible, I want to achieve something with England, I want to achieve more with Manchester City, I want to win the Champions League... There's so many things that you can throw out there but it's just a comment unless you actually make it possible.

"I'll just concentrate on what I'm doing. If those things come into sight, then that's unbelievable and I'm obviously doing something right but for now, I'll continue to push, stay on form, try to score goals and influence the team no matter where I am on the pitch, giving my all."