Skip to main content
Published 18 July 2023 6 min read
England Women's Senior Team

Hannah Hampton: My journey

Written by:

Hannah Hampton

England and Chelsea goalkeeper Hannah Hampton talks us through her journey from Villarreal in Spain to her first World Cup in Australia, via spells at Stoke City, Birmingham City and Aston Villa

My earliest football memory is as a four-year-old, on the sidelines of my brother's rugby match. I remember trying to keep myself occupied by kicking around one of those inflatable balls along the side of the pitch. The proper ones were too heavy for me to kick properly at that age so it was one of those inflatable ones.

I grew up in Spain so I spent my afternoons in the playground of my school. My parents worked at the same school I attended, so I would be waiting for them to finish their duties and send the other kids home so I would be playing football on the playground while I waited.

The town where I lived had a local astro, where most nights of the week we would all gather. You could never tell who would show up each night, but we would turn it into a game and have a bit of a kickabout. Nothing too serious, but they were great times.

The little village where I lived was near Castellon. It was incredible. In Spain, it's remarkable how every town has an astro. No matter where you end up, you can always go to the local astro, mingle with the locals, and just play a football game.

I moved to Spain when I was five and returned a month before my 11th birthday. My first-ever football team was Villarreal so I'm not too familiar with the grassroots system in England, having grown up in Spain and getting thrown in at a big team like Villarreal.

In my school in Spain, there was no football team. I guess it was because of the timing of our schooling. The hot days meant siestas, which meant time to relax on the beach in the afternoon. We did have teams for other activities, mainly swimming because it was so hot!

After returning from Spain, my first team was Stoke City. I was still an outfielder at that time and then became a goalkeeper at 12. I was there when I was an under-11 so I did two years in the under-12s.

When I was 15, I moved to Birmingham City because I wanted to stay in a tier-one RTC, and I stayed there until I was 20 before moving to Aston Villa.

The transition to goalkeeper happened quite unexpectedly. It was the classic our keeper got injured in the warm-up, and someone had to go in goal so I stuck my hand in the air. 

I must have had a worldie because after the game, an England scout wanted me to be their goalkeeper for my age group. 

Interestingly, the following week, I played outfield and was offered to be the England striker for the age group as well. So I had to pick and because I had got scouted after only one game in goal, I chose the goalkeeper role.

But even after being scouted as a goalkeeper for England at 12, I still didn’t make the full transition to being a full-time goalkeeper until I was 14, so I had two seasons where I would spend half the game as a goalkeeper and then the other half outfield.

A few times in Spain I would go in goal on the local pitches where everyone would have to take their turns and I did enjoy it but it was just a bit of fun. I guess that must have been why I volunteered to go in goal at Stoke.

I played my first game for England Under-15s when I was 12. I had been asked to a few camps and then I played in the double fixture against the Netherlands. It's a game I recall vividly and I kept it to a 0-0 draw at half-time. I was buzzing.

Throughout my various house moves, my family was incredibly supportive. They were always there for me, driving me around, getting me where I needed to be.

The most influential person in my career has been my brother and then coaching-wise, the best coach I had and the one who started it for me at Stoke was Andrew Frost, as he saw the potential in me as a goalkeeper and encouraged me to remain as a goalkeeper. He helped me get all the training I needed to get.

My brother Ben had a big impact on me too. My brother played with England Hockey and I saw how proud he made the family so I wanted to do the same.

I always looked up to him and all the hard work he put into his hockey. I wanted to copy that and I don’t think I would have got to where I have had my brother not been so successful in what he was doing.

He got to the England Hockey level but he was still helping me chase my dreams, even stopping potentially reaching his hockey level to help me reach my goals in football. 

Ben loved going in goal so he used to do extra training with me, teaching me techniques and facilitating extra sessions. 

30 Jun 2023 6:15

Inside Training | High-energy goalkeeping

Lionesses goalkeepers are put through an intense reaction session as they prepare for the FIFA Women’s World Cup

He would also help me get my schoolwork done and even help distract me when I was maybe stressed a bit with it.

There is only two years between us and I think because we got chucked in the deep end a bit in Spain, in terms of not knowing the language when we moved and stuff like that, it helped make us really close because we hung around together a lot. And it was the same when we moved to new schools in England.

When I made my England debut, the first call I made afterwards was to my brother because he is in the Army now and he couldn’t get to the game.

Being a substitute and singing the national anthem had always made me proud so to then be in the starting line-up, it definitely brought a tear to my eye. 

It is something I will never forget. It is something you dreamed of as a little girl and to be able to say that I have fulfilled that dream and I am a Lioness, it is so special. 

Find women's and girls' football