While Arsenal LFC and England's women have hit new heights this season, it has been a bittersweet time for captain of club and country Faye White. The central defender ruptured cruciate knee ligaments in a pre-season fixture last July and while she has been sidelined Arsenal have reached the UEFA Women's Cup final for the first time while England have qualified for the FIFA Women's World Cup. Her participation against Umeå IK is still not certain, but White is back in training and was in upbeat mood when speaking to uefa.com.
uefa.com: How near are you to playing again?
Faye White: It's good, progressing, on track. I'm getting back into training and a little bit more of that before I look at playing in a game. I have a date in mind, but haven't told anyone!
uefa.com: Do you think you will make the UEFA Women's Cup final?
White: I'd have to be already in contention before then, playing regularly. But that's not up to me, that's for other people. I'm just trying to get myself fit.
uefa.com: How has it felt to miss so many big games since your injury?
White: You don't want to miss one game let alone big important games. But it's good that the team are doing well, it's encouraging and makes you want to work that little bit harder to get back and gives you more motivation.
uefa.com: Have you watched matches in a different way since your injury, perhaps as a coach might do?
White: I'm interested in that side, trying to make your time out a bit more useful. Watching how players are reacting, how other teams are progressing, or how players are reacting to certain things going on in your position. You've got to make things positive, there is no point just sitting there and not taking in what you can.
uefa.com: Did you think Arsenal could reach the UEFA final this year?
White: With each year we've got more experience, we've got the team strengthened. We felt we were closing the gap on the Swedes and the Germans, who were always on top in Europe. With the strengthening we've had this year, it's no surprise that the team has got there. It could have happened the year before, but it depends how the games come up.
uefa.com: What do you think of Umeå?
White: A couple of their veteran players have retired, but they have included some new faces. But it's the beginning of their season and the players have got to bed in and adjust. It will be interesting but they do go in slightly as favourites due to their experience of finals in previous years.
uefa.com: It has been a tremendous achievement to reach the final for your manager and Arsenal FC kitman Vic Akers, who set up the women's team himself...
This is our 20th year, it's fitting we have got to the final. If anyone knows about how the team has changed and what work goes in to make a European final, it's Vic. As a part of Arsenal there is always someone behind the scenes pushing and working, and accountable for why it has grown so much. After 20 years of something that takes a lot of your time up and takes a lot of dedication and passion, and it would be a great reward.
uefa.com: You also work full-time for Arsenal, what difference has that made during your rehabilitation?
White: It has been good; to be seen whenever I've needed, to have the facilities to train and that bit of help and support that was needed. [When I suffered another bad injury in 2002] I had to drive an hour and a half just to see a physio. It is a bit different now, and it is nice to still be part of everything, to watch the games.
uefa.com: You were commentating for TV when England qualified for the World Cup in France last September, what do you remember of that day?
White: Just to be there watching is hard, but it was fantastic at the end. If you are not a player you are still a fan. I kind of felt how the girls felt, I was trying to imagine what that must have felt like for them. At last we did it! It is important they keep hold of that feeling and take that into the World Cup and for the Arsenal players the UEFA final too, it will be a similar standard of game for us.
uefa.com: Whatever else happens this year, you already have one honour - the United Kingdom's MBE for services to women's football.
White: It has been good for the game and its profile but it is weird receiving something like that because it is an honour, but you are used to things with a team. It helps the game, it shows the game is progressing. But there are other people out there who did as much!
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