As Wales gear up to host their first UEFA finals, senior captain Jessica Fishlock discusses national pride, playing in the United States and why she wishes she was 19 again.
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Senior Wales captain Jessica Fishlock is enjoying success abroad with Seattle Reign FC, but the 26-year-old says nothing can match the thrill of playing for her country. She developed the passion at an early age in the Welsh youth set-up, making her bow for the Under-19 side aged 16. She recalls her first steps with UEFA.com ahead of the 2013 UEFA European Women's U19 Championship in Wales, which begins on Monday.
UEFA.com: What do you remember of your time with the women's U19s?
Jessica Fishlock: I used to love being in the U19s. I'm really happy we're hosting the final tournament, but me and Gwen Harries always say we wish we were playing in it. My U19 side got through to the second phase in Holland in 2005 and that was one of the best tournaments we had ever been in.
UEFA.com: What advice would you give to the current women's U19s on dealing with pressure at the finals?
Fishlock: It's going to be a new situation for all of them; they will be playing at home and up against big, big teams. They just need to enjoy the occasion and play the games as if they are normal internationals. Coach Jarmo Matikainen is very thorough in his homework on the opposition and just brings an aura of calmness and professionalism. He is nothing but great for us.
UEFA.com: Your career has taken you all over the world – did you ever imagine that would happen when you first started at Cardiff City LFC?
Fishlock: Absolutely not! I didn't realise this was going to be the path of my life but I'm extremely grateful that it is. I know how lucky I am. America is brilliant. I'm enjoying every minute of it – the professionalism of how it is run, and the challenge of competing with the best in the world.
UEFA.com: What did it mean to you to pull on the Wales jersey for the first time?
Fishlock: Every time I put a Wales shirt on it feels like the first time. I feel so privileged to put on the Welsh top. It's just a feeling you don't get anywhere else or doing anything else.