Women’s World Cup: Helen Pashgian has world, but not ending, experience

England and England Women’s captain Helen Pashgian has been playing for some 35 years but there was never a moment like the moments from the the past 10 days.

“I have been bitten on the finger many times in my career, but there was one from Rory Thornton that is really sore,” the 74-times capped defender said.

“It was a late header for England at the Cyprus Cup, and I picked it up.”

Left-back Pashgian is the only player in England history to have won a Uefa Women’s Cup with four different teams, having won it with Manchester City in 1996.

Media playback is not supported on this device Thornton makes England history

There were three Uefa Women’s Championship wins, and five League Cups with all four clubs – Shefford in 1987, Tampa Bay Rowdies in 2000, the Middlesbrough Ladies in 2014 and Vixens in 2015.

But winning the Women’s World Cup – possibly her last chance at a World Cup – feels “better” and more special than anything else Pashgian has won, she says.

“It doesn’t get any better than World Cup success for me,” she told BBC Sport.

“It is a unique feeling, and all the players feel that way. We are all different, some are older and others younger, but we all feel that we have been blessed with these great experiences, and we would definitely never change it.

“Nothing makes you feel more alive than success, even when it hasn’t come straight away.

“In 2015, we were 13 points behind Italy in the group stage. Now we are up against them in our quarter-final, and I honestly wouldn’t have believed we could go as far as we have.”

There was a huge party at The Oval when Vixens beat Everton Ladies to reach the quarter-finals, with about 4,000 fans turning up, Pashgian said.

“It was overwhelming to see everyone coming out of the stands to get a look at the action,” she said.

“It’s my sixth year with England, and I am amazed by what we have been able to achieve, but I don’t think it has sunk in for most of us yet.

“I feel like the whole team hasn’t had its full load of party, and I can’t wait to see what we can do.”

My influences, it is all right

It is not a good thing to be known as your team’s leading goal scorer at the age of 58. It is not the only curse with that title either.

But Helen Pashgian had plenty of noteworthy accolades in her more than 35 years in the game.

“At Manchester City I captained and played a role in helping get a women’s league and the building of a place which now has a 99% attendance record for home league games,” she said.

“That set us up for good years to come.

“That doesn’t stop there. I am also the only player in history to score for four different clubs in the Women’s Champions League.”

She added: “But when I look back, there are so many more than goals.”

Helen Pashgian was speaking to BBC Sport’s Leonie O’Connor.

The third England team to play in Japan

Pashgian was forced to wait 15 years to celebrate her country’s first World Cup win but, having put behind the disappointment of that 0-0 draw, there are real hopes of the moment finally coming on Saturday.

She only missed it in 2011 because she was on club duty with City, then part of FIFPro’s elite squad.

“I played the quarter-final and didn’t get to the final,” she said. “I don’t remember that much about it.

“I was thinking it was really annoying not being there, but I think I was happy for them because then it gave them something to celebrate.

“They did pretty well to get there though, it was a difficult group for them.

“They are definitely improving, and if you look at our away record, it has been pretty good.”

In the meantime, she has just finished her season in California, but is already looking forward to England’s trip to Japan for the World Cup.

“I’ve never been there, I haven’t watched them play much on TV, but hopefully I can travel there next year and come back and help them. I love the shirt.”

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