Most youngsters can only dream of pulling on an England jersey one day, but Pease Pottage footballer Zoe Cross is determined to make every second count after being selected to play in a USA double header next week.
The 18-year-old, who plays her club football for Chelsea Ladies in the FA Women’s Super League, is one of a 20-strong squad who will welcome their visitors from across the pond on July 12, before playing them again two days later.
Cross made her first appearance for England at under-17 level two years ago, and playing against the USA would cap off a tremendous couple of weeks for the Holy Trinity School pupil after beginning training alongside the Chelsea first-team.
And she admits she can’t wait for kick-off at St George’s Park to feel the buzz that accompanies playing in the red and white of her country.
“It is amazing, a new age group for me too as I’ve just gone up to the under-19s, it is a great opportunity — especially playing the USA,” said Cross, who benefits from being part of the SSE Next Generation programme.
“They are a massive nation in football, so I’m really looking forward to it.
“We played France a couple of months back and that was a great opportunity.
“We didn’t qualify for the Euros a couple of months ago which was disappointing, but the new year starts soon so I’m getting ready to go for that.
“Every single time I meet up with the England team it’s exciting, there’s nothing better than pulling the shirt on, having that pride, it’s one of my main ambitions to get into the senior team.”
The opportunity to play for Chelsea Ladies is one that Cross openly admits she relishes, playing day in, day out alongside the likes of England internationals Fran Kirby, Claire Rafferty and Eniola Aluko.
And after seeing the impact of her teammates’ bronze medal-winning campaign at last summer’s World Cup in Canada, Cross insists she couldn’t be in a better place as she looks to turn professional.
“I’d love to play at Wembley one day, that would be amazing and it’s definitely my lifelong dream,” she said.
“Chelsea is an amazing place to be, I get to train with them full time now, so I’m playing with top quality players week in, week out – there’s nothing better to help me develop – it’s a great experience.
“I definitely caught women’s football at the right time. There are so many doors and opportunities opening, women are training full time now which never used to happen.
“Seeing the women do so well at the World Cup has really boosted it and the fans coming to games have been amazing, so there is an exciting future for women’s football.”
SSE’s Next Generation programme partners with SportsAid to provide financial support and training to the sports stars of the future. Keep up to date with the latest @SSENextGen