Chloe Kelly says her surprise debut for England has spurred her on to keep performing for Everton.
The Toffees forward has been a regular within the Lionesses youth sides since featuring for the Under-15s back in 2011 and earned her senior bow in the 3-0 win against Austria in Vienna earlier this month.
Coming on for former Blue Girl Toni Duggan on 78 minutes, Kelly almost marked the occasion with a goal but was denied twice in quick succession by goalkeeper Manuela Zinsberger.
But given Kelly was supposed to only train a few days with the senior squad prior to their trip to Austria, the experience was an unforgettable one for the 20-year-old.
“I had spoken to Mo Marley [England Under-21s coach] a week before and she said that I was going to go and train with the seniors for a few days,” explains Kelly. “Even then I was a bit overwhelmed by it. The plan was to train with them on the Friday before they left for Austria but when I got there, they said I was going, too. I text my parents and they were buzzing.
“It was an amazing experience to be out there with the team. The training sessions were a whole new level to what I’ve experienced before and the standard was a big step up. But just getting out there helped me relax and I got used to it the more I was involved.
“My dad comes to every game and he had called me asking whether he should fly out to watch. I told him that I was only going to be in the stands but the morning of the game I found out I would be on the bench. Straight away I text my dad saying he probably should have come out.
“But even then, I wasn’t thinking that I would get on. Just being on the bench was great for me and my family. But then Phil [Neville, England Head Coach] has asked me to warm up because I was coming on. It was the quickest warm-up I have ever done! I just sprinting about like a mad woman.
“I got myself ready and as I’m standing there waiting to come on, Phil asked me how I was feeling – I’m not sure you can print what I said!
“I have heard so many times that I should have scored. I probably should have but, to be honest, I wasn’t expecting anything when I went on. Everything was happening so quickly, and I was still shocked about actually being on the pitch.
“It didn’t have time to sink in and when that ball fell to me, my head was everywhere! I couldn’t think where to put it. But it was just a great feeling being out there.
“It was an unbelievable experience to come on and make my England debut. It was a very proud moment for me and my family.”
Having now sampled senior international football, Kelly is eager for more, especially with the 2019 World Cup on the horizon next summer. But she is grounded enough to know that will only come if she performs well for Everton.
With the Blue Girls looking to climb up the WSL table as quickly as they can, the former Arsenal youngster is determined to put in the performances that both help the Toffees achieve their objectives and keep her in the thoughts of Lionesses Head Coach Phil Neville.
“I will see what happens,” she added. “I just want to get my head down and focus on my club football. I want to perform at a high level consistently because that is the only way I will get more opportunities with England. I know I cannot drop off.
“I don’t want to overly confident. I just want to take each game as it comes and not get too ahead of myself.
“I will go out there every game and try and play to the best of my ability and see what happens from there.”