Lauren Hemp: One day I’d love to be one of the world's best
With blistering pace, dynamic dribbling skills and crucially good end product, Lauren Hemp has become one of the most feared wingers in world football. But by her own admission, the Norfolk native is not someone who generally celebrates her success.
As humble as she is talented, in June Hemp became the first player in history to win the PFA Women's Young Player of the Year Award four times, making her the most decorated PFA player of all time. All by the age of 21.
A regular for Team GB at the Tokyo Olympic Games last summer and now an integral part of England’s squad, fans of women’s football will be well aware of Hemp’s talent, but this summer’s EUROs has given all of the players a platform to introduce their talents to a wider audience.
Speaking before the EUROs started, Hemp said: “It’s incredible to think the last few years have been such a whirlwind. I’ve gone from playing back in Norfolk to playing now on the biggest stage possible.
“It’s important to take a step back and realise how far I’ve come. I don’t think I do that enough. I don’t think I celebrate my individual awards and things like that as much as I should. I think it’s time to do that and recognise how far I’ve come.
“It’ll only give me confidence going into the EUROs because I think for me having belief and confidence is what’s going to bring out the best in me.”
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She continued: “I think it’s important to put yourself under pressure because that’s what the best players do and how they reach the top levels – and one day I’d love to be one of the best.
“I know the way to get there and I know that I’m far from it. But like I said, I think it is important to look back at how far you’ve come. I am doing that more often and I think it’s important to keep doing it because I enjoy the ride.”
Hemp started her footballing journey playing for a boys’ team at North Walsham around the age of eight before joining Norwich City Girls’ Centre of Excellence a couple of years later.
When the Canaries closed their girls’ Centre of Excellence, Hemp returned to North Walsham boys’ team for a season before moving to Bristol City at 16.
Hemp may have been included in almost every ‘Ones to watch’ article leading into the EUROs but the former striker believes she needs to improve several areas of her game before she can follow the likes of team-mate Lucy Bronze in being recognised as one of the best players in the world.
Hemp said: “I think one of the main things to improve is my decision-making, whether that is cutting on the inside, going on the outside, shooting, crossing, driving at a player, things like that.
“Obviously when you get the ball and everyone comes towards you, it’s that split-second decision and what you’re going to do on the ball, so that is one of the massive things I’ve been working on this year.
“I think with the decision-making then comes becoming more consistent with goals, the assists, and things like that. Hopefully that’ll show in my stats.
“But also my right foot. That’s another one of the many things I’d like to improve. There’s a lot of little things and now it is a case of putting that together.”
But how do you improve something like decision-making? What is she doing to improve that aspect of her game?
“Well, I think it’s quite hard,” she replied. “Just getting that experience in games. You’re obviously never going to be in the same situation twice so it is obviously hard to make a split-second decision but I think the more games I play, the more it’s going to come and obviously the older I get, hopefully I’ll become more consistent.
“And then practising it in training at the end of sessions. Grabbing Ellen [White] and people like that, who I link with on the pitch and have good connections with. Whether it’s running down the line, crossing the ball and getting it in the right areas, things like that.
“It is hard to work on your decision-making when you only get seconds to think about it in the game so I think with experience it’ll come.”
You can find out more about her journey to the England squad by reading Hemp's story here.