The Manchester City and England star, 32, on her tough-love upbringing, beating the boys and achieving her childhood dream

I grew up in a single-parent household in South Shields. It was me, my mam, my three brothers, my sister and my nan. My nan, who was very loving, took care of us a lot – she was almost like a second parent. It was tough for my mam. She wasn’t able to work, because there were five of us. We were brought up on benefits. That’s why I’ll always be grateful for my upbringing. We were always clean. We were always well fed. Now, parents are struggling to do even do that.

I come from a family of strong women. I always talk about the time I got kicked in a game when I was 14. It really hurt and I wanted to cry, then I saw my mam coming towards me – to give me a hug, I thought. But she bent down and said: “Don’t you dare cry,” rubbed my bleeding knee and walked off. That stuck with me. Even now, if I get hurt, I think: “Quick, get up, because Mam will be fuming.” It came from a place of love and care, but it was a tough-love upbringing. She equipped me for life and she did a very good job.

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