Women's World Cup qualifiers: Hannah Hampton on following England dreams despite eye problems

Hannah Hampton “wasn’t supposed to play sport” after being born with poor vision, but that only made her more determined to achieve what some regarded as an impossible dream.

She may sometimes struggle to pour a glass of water without spilling it, but she has a growing reputation as one of the Women’s Super League’s finest young goalkeepers.

“I have no depth perception, so I can’t judge distances – so being a goalkeeper doesn’t really make a lot of sense,” said the 21-year-old Aston Villa keeper after being called up to the England squad for this month’s World Cup qualifiers against Austria and Latvia.

“It’s more off the pitch when you notice it. For example, pouring a glass of water – if I’m not holding the glass itself I will miss it and spill it everywhere.”

Ongoing problems with her eyesight may not be holding Hampton back as her career blossoms but being born with a squint did threaten to stop her from playing in the first place.

“I wasn’t supposed to play and I wasn’t allowed to do certain jobs,” said Hampton, who crossed the second city divide to join Villa from Birmingham City in the summer.

“Finding that out made me more determined to get to the highest level possible. It was always my passion to do sport and it was my dream.

“I’ve always told the younger generation that if you can’t follow your own dreams, what are you going to do in life? You’ve got to follow your dreams and, sat here right now, I can say that I’ve done that.”

As a youngster, Hampton said, she had “multiple operations” to try correct her eyes but that they have “never been fully repaired”.

Aston Villa's Hannah Hampton in training
Hannah Hampton joined Aston Villa in the summer after making more than 60 first-team appearances for local rivals Birmingham City

Further surgery remains an option, but while she is competing for a spot as England’s number one and is starring for Villa in the WSL she simply does not see the need.

“I’m here for a reason so it’s obviously not affecting me in such a way,” she said.

“I’ve come across quite a few people who have been told they can’t do what they want to do and that hit home with me. I was told that as well, but I’m doing what I love.

“I hope I’m an inspiration.”

As for her own sources of inspiration, she is surrounded by them while with the England squad.

Hampton, who could make her England debut against Latvia on Tuesday, freely admits she “is fan-girling most of the time” when she is with the Lionesses.

“Every time I get a call-up to England, I don’t expect it and I have a smile from ear to ear,” she said.

“I’m always looking out for who’s in the squad and who I’m going to be on camp with.

“I’m not going to lie, I love it.”

The Villa keeper still feels “amazed” to be in camp with players she has idolised growing up.

“I’m playing with some of the best players in the world,” she said.

“Just spending time with them off the pitch every single day, you learn so much.

“I’m asking so many questions to so many people, trying to learn as much as I can because when I was younger I was looking up to most of these people.

“Just this afternoon I was having a coffee with Jill Scott and I never thought I’d be able to do that, so I absolutely love it.”

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