Northern Ireland's Rachel Furness on Women's EURO and completing her Panini sticker collection
Thursday, 7 July 2022
"We've got such a special group and it's a complete underdog story," said Northern Ireland midfielder Rachel Furness as she spoke to the official UEFA Women's EURO TikTok team.
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Northern Ireland and Liverpool midfielder Rachel Furness sat down for a chat with @womensfootball TikTok about her side's noisy dressing room, their challenge at their first Women's EURO and how she managed to complete her official tournament sticker collection.
You were Northern Ireland's top scorer in qualifying; does that put pressure on you?
We've got goals from all over the team, so I don't feel the pressure. I just feel excitement every time I put on that green shirt, I just feel proud and I'll do anything to score for my country. But for me, it could be any of us. We all carry each other, we all push each other and there are no individuals in this team, there are no superstars and that's what makes us so special.
At the start of the qualifying campaign, we weren't spoken of for being in contention at all. We were completely written off by a lot of the media and a lot of the other countries we were up against. If anything, that put more fire in our bellies, made us want to prove everyone else wrong but also prove to ourselves that with our hard work and the way that the coaching staff have got us set up, that this is a special group that can do special things. We've defied all odds. We are named as 'the Game-Changers' in Northern Ireland. We've got such a special group and it's a complete underdog story.
Do you have any pre-match rituals?
I always put on my left shin pad first, I always put on my left boot first. My shin pads have got a photo of me and my grandad on there. So before I put my shin pad on, I'll give my grandad a little kiss, put my shin pad on and then I'm focused and I'm ready to make him and everyone else proud.
What's the Northern Ireland dressing room like? Well, it is quite loud and it is quite rowdy. We've got a few of the quiet girls that like to just stay focused, listen to their own music, but you've got the odd ones that are maybe trying to show their classy dance moves in the changing rooms, but there's just a great buzz, there's a great vibe about it and, you know, I guess the whole excitement for the game.
How tough will the matches against Norway, England and Austria be?
We are the underdogs; we are under no illusions that any nation we come up against is going to be very difficult, but I have full belief in our squad and our coaching staff that they will set us up accordingly to try and get something out of the games and try to make the fans proud.
It's fantastic to see Hegerberg back playing for Norway. She's one of the most prolific strikers in the women's game. I do hope that she's not prolific against Northern Ireland. Against Austria and England that's absolutely fine, but I think it's great for the women's game and I will be looking forward to hopefully sharing a pitch with her because she's a fantastic player and role model for women's football.
Have the team seen their Panini stickers for the Women's EURO?
As soon as I could pre-order the book, I did. I think I got the starter pack, so I've got four boxes of stickers and as soon as I got them I opened them and tried to look for me straightway. I was 50 packets in until I got myself, and it was just a wild moment.
All of the girls have been collecting each other. As a little girl growing up, I collected these stickers of my heroes, which at the time were male footballers. So now for young girls and boys growing up to collect us as female role models I just think it's fantastic. I've completed the book and it's a very proud moment. Chloe McCarron gave me my last sticker that I needed. Sarah McFadden actually drove over to my house and we sat like little girls swapping stickers, it really took us back.
Have any of the Northern Ireland men's team given you any advice after their experience at UEFA EURO 2016?
I've spoken to Aaron Hughes and Gareth McAuley and they said: "Just soak it up. Just enjoy the whole experience because it will be over in a blink of an eye."