Stamford Bridge final ambassador Faye White tells UEFA.com about her role, promoting women's football and the colleague who rugby-tackled her when she announced her pregnancy.
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Faye White captained England for a decade before relinquishing the armband last year, so she is an appropriate choice as ambassador for the UEFA Women's Champions League final at London's Stamford Bridge on 23 May – not least as she skippered Arsenal LFC to the European title in 2007.
With tickets now on sale for the fixture at the home of Chelsea FC, central defender White – on maternity leave from Arsenal – spoke to UEFA.com about her ambassadorial role and the importance of the competition to players.
UEFA.com: What does this role as ambassador mean to you?
Faye White: It is brilliant – I was very honoured to be asked and it was one that I didn't have to think twice about. My career, not only as a player but off the pitch, has been about trying to raise the profile and be a role model for young girls to maybe one day emulate, so there's no better opportunity than being an ambassador for UEFA and for such a great competition.
UEFA.com: You've also been able to do that as England captain and with television appearances ...
White: Yes, it was something I just fell into really.
I realised when I was first made England captain that there was a big need for someone to actually go out there and talk about the game, and make young girls want to play it and to help raise the profile. So I have loved doing that, and you can be doing so many different things: you have to learn how to handle the media, but then you are going to schools, visiting children and talking to them as a player and as a role model. So I have loved it, and being able to carry it on while I am not playing, now I've retired from international football.
UEFA.com: Is this final the pinnacle of the women's game?
White: Definitely. It's the biggest game that you can play for your club. You train week in, week out for your club, so to win the UEFA Champions League is the highest you can reach and it's quite an honour if you do manage to achieve it.
UEFA.com: It also gives you the chance to play at the biggest stadiums ...
White: Yes, in club football you can have a big variety of different grounds. And playing at the big stadiums with potentially big crowds just adds that extra special feeling towards the game, the excitement leading into it and the whole occasion. And certainly at the end of the game, if you've won, it makes for unforgettable memories.
UEFA.com: What difference have the European competitions, first of all the UEFA Women's Cup, now the UEFA Women's Champions League, made to women's football?
White: It has helped increase the standard of women's football in those countries [involved]. Obviously you play and you become champions in your own country, but then to [compete] against the best in other countries just helps you move on another level, really. You're playing against top internationals often – it gives that something extra in the calendar to look forward to as a player. I know that some of the best games I've experienced, some of the best memories, the drama of the Champions League has always been up there – I've had some special games and some special nights.
UEFA.com: You became a mother last year, joining fellow mums at Arsenal in Julie Fleeting and Katie Chapman. Have you spoken to them about managing parenthood and football?
White: I wouldn't say we've sat down and had a conversation, but you just see it. More so with Katie, because she's always had her family with us at the club – on the team bus on the away trips, and they come and stay in hotels with us. That's why Arsenal are so good, because they really give you support if you've got a family, and they certainly did for Katie. It was more sort of watching that, and it was nice in a way, it was always good to have the kids as a distraction on the coach. Yes, we sometimes talk about it, but she was probably the happiest team-mate – when I announced my pregnancy she actually jumped on me and nearly rugby-tackled me to the ground!