Ellie Roebuck has been Manchester City’s number one for almost three years. She starred in the Olympics before stepping into what was arguably the greatest year for women’s football in this country. The last time England hosted the Women’s Euros in 2005, Roebuck was five years old. This year, she was part of the historic Lionesses squad that brought home the silverware.
Earlier this year, PENALTY sat down with Ellie to talk about her comeback from a lengthy injury last season, her aspirations for women’s football and her beloved companion: her dog Johnny.
For Roebuck, the EUROS were a chance to help grow the game. “The opportunity to play in front of a home crowd is probably something that might not happen again in my lifetime. It’s a great opportunity to help grow women’s football as well,” she said.
The Director of the Women’s Professional Game, Kelly Simmons OBE, revealed that attendances in the Barclays WSL increased by 200% since EURO 2022. Five members of the current Manchester City squad were part of the Lionesses’ squad that helped England win its first major international game since 1966, with Chloe Kelly scoring the memorable winning goal.
The victory was also a huge opportunity to showcase not only women’s talent but also an opportunity to increase investment. “I think this summer will really set off more interest in women’s football. Especially having a home crowd with our family and friends.”
For Roebuck, it’s quite simple. This summer was a dream come true. Earlier this year she told PENALTY: “The dream is to get to the final and to go on and win.” They executed the plan with amazing precision after beating Germany 2-1 in the final.
At the start of 2022, Barclays announced it will extend sponsorship of the FA Women’s Super League and will become the first title sponsor of the FA Women’s Championship from 2022/23 season to help develop the women’s game by offering girls equal access to football in schools by 2024.
While this investment remains integral in growing in the women’s game, there is still more to be done. “We need to be better at publicising the games during the week, getting fans down, and having schools involved.” There’s many ways to do it but the question remains, how do we get that continuity? We also need to use our platform to spread the word and keep advertising. As players we also need to keep improving and driving the standard to make it more advertisable for people to come and watch, and keep them interested.”
The start of the season also saw Sarina Wiegman begin her reign as England’s new boss with hopes to lead the Lionesses to victory. “Everyone was really excited about Sarina coming in. She’s different to what we’ve experienced before but we know she’s a winner.” At the BBC Sports Personality Team of the Year 2022, Wiegman won Coach of the Year for leading the country to success.
Last year Roebuck suffered a calf injury leaving her unable to play for five months and had to watch her teammates from the sidelines. Reflecting on this she said: “There was a lot of change that went on that I couldn’t be part of. It was really tough to see that transition with Sarina happen and not being able to showcase myself. The injury gave me a lot of perspective on life and football and I’m enjoying being back because at one point I didn’t know if it was going to happen as soon as it did.
“One injury can really set you back. After the Olympics, I was so ready to go into this season and get on with England. I worked myself to number one at the Olympics and for that huge achievement to be taken away from me made me understand that there is more to life. Now, I appreciate all those things a lot more and invest my time outside of football as well.”
During this time, it was her dog Johnny who was the bright light. “He’s my best friend and would always be there, we’ve got a little bromance going on. Everytime I come home from work, he grabs a shoe or a present to welcome me at the door. I’m not always happy if its a nice pair of shoes, but it’s really cute.”
Roebuck is thankful to her parents for her success. “They’ve done everything for me growing up. My dad used to drive me ridiculous miles across the country to get me where I needed and it would’ve been impossible without their support. I owe a lot to them, especially the morals that I’ve been brought up with, they keep me grounded.”
At the start of her career, Ellie had the opportunity to work with Karen Bardsley who is now her role model and inspiration, “she took me under her wing and helped me grow as a player. She was England’s number one and the best goalkeeper, I owe her a lot.”
Despite the challenges and changes, Roebuck’s perseverance helped her team over the line in the Euros. Now, they’ll be looking to replicate this glory next year at the World Cup.
Photography: Mon Levchenkova