Former England Women captain Mary Phillip opens up on her journey to becoming the first black captain. Philip was handed the captain’s armband in 2003 as she made 65 appearances before retiring in 2008. She began her career with the Milwall Lionesses at the age of 12 before winning five Women’s Premier League titles and seven FA Cups. Until 2011, she was the only England player to be present in two World Cup squads.

“I grew up in Peckham and done everything within Peckham. I was born and bred in Peckham. From there to my primary school, where we were given the opportunity to play girls-only football when the boys wouldn’t let us play. It was fantastic, and it all grew and continued to grow from there,” former England Women captain Mary Phillip said. “I received a letter from the FA saying I had been pulled up into the England squad for the upcoming World Cup. And it was a surprise because I’d only been to a couple of training sessions, and I’m now going to a World Cup. Just going out there with the players that were there, it was amazing, and seeing the requirements needed, the standards needed to be able to push and develop into that squad, it was a great experience.”

“It wasn’t until a few years back that I found that I had become the first black female captain, years after me actually having received the captaincy, and it’s a great honor to hold that,” she added. “That is something that always goes down in history. And long after I’m gone, my great-grandkids will be able to see that when looking back in women’s football and say, ‘Hey, Mary Phillip, that’s my grandma, and she became England’s first black captain’. To be able to go out there [as captain], give the messages, and be able to lead and uplift the team and carry us forward. You know, it’s a great experience to have.”

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