The below article featured in the Everton magazine. February’s edition is available digitally here.
It’s been a long journey together for Danielle Turner and Everton Ladies.
The wing-back has had more than her fair share of battles en route to the prestige of becoming club captain in Women’s Super League 1 and one of the Blue Girls’ longest-serving players.
Warrington-born Turner joined the Club in 2006 as part of the Everton Ladies’ Centre of Excellence and graduated into the first team for the start of the 2013/2014 season.
But the start she had to life in the senior side was not the one she would have dreamt of.
“Breaking through was obviously great, but I had a bit of a mixed year because I broke my metatarsal in pre-season,” recalled the 26-year-old. “I ended up being out for nine months and missed most of the season, so it was bittersweet.
“I had been working hard in the reserves, as it was called then, but the injury set me back a bit and I didn’t get back until the September. Like I say, it was great when I broke through - when I eventually did break through!”
Her chance came soon enough, though, as Turner made her debut at the start of the 2014/15 season, starting and helping Everton to keep a clean sheet away at Birmingham City in a 0-0 draw.
“I wasn’t expecting too much that campaign because it was my first season and I had been injured the whole previous year,” said the skipper, known as DT by her teammates. “I found myself starting the first league game of the season and played well enough for (Head Coach) Andy (Spence) to believe in me and I started the majority of the games that year which was unexpected.
“It was great Andy backed me and had the faith to start me. We got relegated so it wasn’t the best of seasons, but we reached the FA Cup final. I got a lot more playing time than I originally expected that year.
“Lots has happened over the years! There’s been ups and downs, we’ve been relegated, got back up and then recently going full-time. Lots has changed. I have seen players come and go in my time here and we’ve got a new squad now, but I think the Club is in the best place that we have been in.
“We have the backing from the Club - shown by going full-time - and the environment, everything, is the best it has been.”
The move to a full-time set up came days after Everton were awarded a place in WSL 1 for the new season, a fitting reward for a team that strolled to the Spring Series title earlier in the year, and for all the hard work which has gone into developing the team off the pitch.
“We are heading in the right direction and in a good place at the minute,” said Turner. “I’m really enjoying WSL 1. It’s tough and is a step up from WSL 2, but we have got a relatively young squad and this is definitely where we want to be.
“We are still a young team - I’m one of the oldest at 26! - and I’m still learning too because I broke through late. We are all still learning. It is great to play against these type of senior internationals week in, week out and that’s the level that we all want to be, where we can learn from other players and other teams.”
The signing of Dutch international Siri Worm has given boss Andy Spence more options in defence, allowing Turner to have different roles throughout games.
Turner collected Everton Ladies' Player of the Season Award after a strong 2014 campaign.
But the agile and speedy player relishes the opportunity to play wherever she is best utilised, be it left-back or left midfield, versatility she hopes can one day see her gain England honours, having already represented her country at Under-23 level.
“I don’t mind where I play, as long as I’m on the pitch,” admitted Turner. “I’m happy to interchange between left-back and left wing, I’m comfortable with both. I started off my youth career as a winger but the last few years I have dropped back.
“At left-back you have the game in front of you but higher up the pitch I feel I can have an influence in the final third.
“Hopefully one day I will play for England. I am 26 now and getting to the peak of my career but it is still something that I will aspire to do. That is my aim and my goal to get into the senior set-up, that’s never changed.
“To do that, though, I have got to keep working hard and keep leading this team as best I can. And as we have seen at Everton - you just never know what’s going to happen!”