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Interview with Georgia Allen

Ipswich Town’s first new addition of the Summer seen Georgia Allen’s return to Suffolk. Georgia started her career in the Ipswich Town Academy before moving into the Arsenal Centre of Excellence.

Georgia has since spent time in America on a Scholarship where she captained the Syracuse side. She has also made appearances for England, and most notably, scoring the winning goal against France in the 2018 World Cup to take the Bronze medal.

Town fans are eagerly waiting to see Georgia in action and what she will bring to Joe Sheehan’s team. We caught up with Georgia after Town’s first week back in training.

What/who got you into football?

My parents like to tell me that I learned how to walk so I could kick a football! I always played, whenever I could. I was the only girl who played at primary school but that didn’t matter to me, I just loved the game.

What team do you support?

My family and I are Arsenal supporters, through the good and the bad… It was a really surreal moment for all of us when I was selected to play for Arsenal Centre of Excellence.

Who is your favourite player (men’s or women’s)?

My all-time favourite player is Thierry Henry

Which player, men’s or women’s, would you love to play alongside?

I was always so inspired by Kelly Smith and getting to train alongside her was the best education as a young footballer. I would have loved the privilege to compete in a game alongside such a legend of the game.

Do you have any pre match rituals?

The only thing I feel I need to do before a game is find a quiet space to just listen to music and visualise the game ahead. I work best after having time to centre myself and my emotions.

Who inspires you?

My Syracuse head coach, Nicky Adams. Nicky is the ultimate professional, with a relentless work ethic. She knows exactly what to do and say to get the best out of her team. She sacrifices any emotion she may experience to put a level-headed, confident and reassuring face to her team. She cares deeply about you as a person. I strive to be the leader she is.

Football memory you will never forget?

Scoring the winning penalty in the U20’s Women’s World Cup in 2018.

Favourite TV series?

Line of Duty

3 songs on your playlist?

The Fray- How to Save a Life, Fleetwood Mac- The Chain and Wilson Phillips- Hold On

Firstly, welcome back to where it all began. How does it feel to be back home?

It feels so great to be home. I loved my time at Ipswich Town when I was a kid, it was a time where I felt free and could play football for the joy of it. Coming back here 10 years later, I still feel that way. I can’t believe how far this club has progressed, I feel very proud to be here again. 

You were part of the Ipswich Town academy, are there any familiar faces from back then currently at the club?

Ellie Rossiter was one of my closet friends back when we were 6 and 7 years old. It has been lovely to reconnect after all this time and share our experiences and journeys.

Moving to join Arsenal’s youth system was obviously a big step up, did you feel any pressure to succeed there?

First of all I had no belief that I would be given the opportunity to join Arsenal. They had legendary status even at youth level. I remember a game, Ipswich versus Arsenal, where we gave everything and earned a draw. We never celebrated a draw so much because we did the unexpected. That foundation at Ipswich of working hard gave me the platform to step up to the level of Arsenal.

You became Captain during your time at Arsenal and lead the team to an unbeaten season, is that one of the stand out seasons in your career so far?

It was a great effort by the entire team, there is no way to accomplish something like that without having everyone buy in for every game. To lead such a talented group was an honour. And winning is one of my favourite things!.

Arsenal obviously held you in high regards and moved you gradually into the first team, how did you feel getting the news you were going to be alongside the likes of Alex Scott and Rachel Yankey in the future?

I won’t downplay the challenge in that transition. I was required to play alongside senior internationals and be reliable in games. I remember Pedro, the coach at the time, saying to me we are not just putting you on the pitch as a token gift, you earned it but now you have the responsibility. At such a young age I think that was an important lesson for me.

Do you still keep contact with some of the players you were with at Arsenal?

I keep in touch with a few through social media. Everyone is very busy but I am always so proud when I see any of those players succeeding on and off the field.

You came on as a sub against Manchester City, how did you feel coming up against the likes of Lucy Bronze and Jill Scott?

Two things stand out in my mind from that game. Firstly, my feeble attempt at trying to compete with Jill Scott for a header! No matter what, at least compete in the air even if you have no chance. My second moment is actually still taped on our TV at home. My family, proudly may I add, watch me get kicked and fouled by Izzy Christiansen. That play has been re-watched a couple of times!

Was leaving Arsenal for an American Scholarship always the plan?

It wasn’t in my plans but I assessed all my options towards the end of A-levels and I knew I didn’t want to sacrifice my education or football. My parents always emphasised the importance of education and America provided the best option for me to not have to sacrifice either. 

Do you see yourself as a team leader given you were also handed the Captaincy at Syracuse as well?

I didn’t and still don’t see myself as a stereotypical leader. I like to limit the amount that I say, there are times that require a leader but the best teams I have played on have multiple voices and everyone feels valued and appreciated. The key principle I try to work by is to listen to understand not necessarily to respond. Teams work best when there are a variety of personalities allowed to shine and therefore, I always want to invest in my 1-to-1 relationships because that way you learn what works best for each individual.

How did you find the Scholarship and is it a good pathway for the future women’s players to follow?

I actually spent my Freshman year at East Tennessee State University. After the first year I wanted a new challenge to take me to the next level. I applied to many schools but Syracuse where the only ones to reach out to me. My mum likes to say because of that it was meant to be. I believe, from my personal experience, that America is a great pathway for young players both on and off the pitch. It is a demanding, challenging but a positively life-changing experience. 

Did you find it hard to adapt to living in the US?

I didn’t find it challenging because I had a built-in support network via my team. That is one of the greatest things about football, hopefully you always have people to lean on, grow and adapt with.

How different is the game in the US compared to England?

The players in America are athletes before footballers. My teammates were quicker and stronger than anyone I had faced back home which was influential in my decision to go across. The physical aspect of the game was one of my weaknesses so I wanted to put myself into a position where I could work on weaknesses every day.

Are you still in contact with players you played with in the US?

Very much so, I loved being a part of the team. They are going to achieve amazing things and they thoroughly deserve it. I can’t wait to follow along this season. 

What’s your favourite memory of your time in the US?

Winning in over-time last season against a rival team. It meant so much to every single person and made a statement to the rest of the league about the future of Syracuse.

I’m sure all the ITFC fans have seen the video of you scoring that penalty for England against France, how did you feel seeing the ball hit the back of the net?

I can retrace every step of that penalty in my mind. I took so long to adjust the ball because the penalty spot was in a divot and my dad had always said never let the ball move after you set it down and to take my time, the goalkeeper can wait. I then saw the keeper adjust and I knew she was going to dive the same side I was going to place it but my dad always said to never change your mind on which side you are going to place it so I knew I needed to place it right in the corner. Thankfully it went well. Also, thanks Dad!

The team returned back to training last week, how have you found being back so far?

I have enjoyed the first couple of sessions, the girls are very welcoming. There is also a clear work ethic and a desire to be better constantly. I am looking forward to striking that balance of loving the game and working hard to achieve our goals.

Was it always the plan to come back to Ipswich after your scholarship? Had you spoken to Joe previously about a return?

Ipswich and Joe have been kind to me these past years in allowing me to train with them before returning to the US for the season. I really appreciated the opportunity and then to combine that with the ability to earn my Masters at Essex it became a no-brainer. The team has so much potential which is encouraging place to join.

Finally, obviously the goal for the club is to go up, do you have any personal goals for yourself?

My goal is be of service to the team to earn promotion in whatever capacity that is. 

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