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Interviews

Sam Tierney reflects on her Blades journey

8 October 2019

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I was at the Sheffield United Academy for eight years. I was born and raised in Sheffield so I played for local teams, I played for boys' teams and at one point I played in mixed teams. I was a striker back then - I promise I scored 64 goals in one season once, it was mental!

Coming back here after being at Doncaster Rovers Belles honestly just felt like coming home. Driving back through those gates every night, nothing's changed since my mum used to drive me through them when I was a kid.

We'd train at the academy but play elsewhere. I'd share lifts with various different people. We had Ellie Roebuck here - some of the songs we used to sing on the journey!

In my hallway at home I've got this picture of all the youth teams together and every day I walk past it and look at it and I can't believe how many players came through the academy at that time.

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It's ridiculous. You've got Ellie, Kasia Lipka, Jess Sigsworth, Millie Bright, Hannah Cain, Beth England, all these players who are all over the place now and you just think we didn't too bad from this little club up north!

The setup was top notch and the coaches were brilliant. We had Dean Smith who now works for the FA and he was the best coach I had. He just told me to go and play and that's what I remember now because I loved it, I didn't have a care in the world back then. You didn't care about what was going on, you just played.

One of my funniest memories - and to this day I don't know how I did it - I had a piercing in my ear and I couldn't get it out. It had been in for six weeks and I rocked up to a game and our general manager said I couldn't play with it in my ear.

The referee wouldn't let me play. I just said I'd tape it up but I was just like I want to play, I need to play. Dean was a fireman and there was a fire station around the corner so he took me there and all these firemen are stood there and Dean just grabs one of these big car cutters - it was huge!

I thought, no chance is that coming anywhere near me! But then he grabbed this little cutter out of the draw and he just cut the piercing out of my ear. I ran straight back to the car, got back to the ground and played the whole game, those were the lengths I went to at that time to play football.

They were all good people and it's so good to see how well all the girls are doing. I come from a football mad family. My parents are from Liverpool and massive Liverpool fans, so I was brought up as a Liverpool fan.

My brother played football, he was at Scunthorpe United for quite a while so I would literally go with my mum and dad and watch him and I'd just be on the side kicking a ball about.

I just didn't want to do anything else. It worked well really because my dad would take my brother and my mum took me. She loved it and she still comes everywhere to watch me now. My dad was a referee which didn't go well with me - we have conflicting opinions on certain situations!

I went to the Belles when I left the academy at 16 and it was massive for me. I'm still really good friends with a lot of the girls and obviously we've got Kasia, Leandra, Barks and co here. I turned up and I was really shy, really innocent, I didn't say anything.

I was fresh out of an academy and I knew I had to work hard. Glen Harris gave me the chance and I just loved it. I'd do anything. I knew it would be tough to get minutes but just travelling with the team, being the tea lady, you'd do everything you could to help.

Kasia was massive for me in terms of my development. I'd ask her lots of questions but just watching how she played in my position. Obviously, I knew her a little bit from coming through the academy but how she played was something to really look up to for me.

I was there from 16 to 19 and went through a lot. One of my fondest memories was one of my first games. We played Liverpool and I was thrown on for 15 minutes against Natasha Dowie and I just thinking how on earth have I got here? Tash was a big name at the time, one minute I'm defending and the next she's got hold of me and pulling me out of the way, I knew I had a long way to go at that point!

We got promoted and having the chance to play in the FA WSL at 17 was ridiculous. I say it to this day, we played Arsenal and I was against Jordan Nobbs and I just couldn't find her, she was everywhere and it was a learning curve.

We only won one game on the last day against Reading and it felt like we'd won the World Cup. We were relegated but off the back of that some of us would look back now and say it was the best season we've ever had because we stuck together through absolutely everything.

When I came back here I remember thinking that I just hadn't left. I remember speaking to my parents and if there was ever a place I was going to feel comfortable and to finish my education then this was the place.

I didn't have to worry about settling in. What this club did when I was here for eight years was the biggest part of my development and I did owe something back to them. I live in Sheffield, it's a good place, our facilities are great and it's just a good place to be.

I'm just buzzing to get the chance to play with Kasia again!


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