Ellie Roebuck on England Dreams, Growing in Confidence at Manchester City & More

Ellie Roebuck
Roebuck spoke to 90min about her England ambitions and settling into life at Manchester City | Mike Stobe/Getty Images

In 2015, England Women reached the semi finals of the World Cup, tapping into the mainstream and really capturing the nation’s attention for the first time.

While Lucy Bronze, Steph Houghton, Jill Scott and co. were firing the Lionesses to a historic World Cup bronze in Canada, Ellie Roebuck hadn’t even taken her GCSEs.

Fast forward five years and the goalkeeper from Sheffield is Manchester City’s number one, the inaugural winner of the WSL Golden Glove award and has her eye on Olympic gold in Tokyo with Team GB next summer – and she is still just 20 years old.

“When I first joined the club [Man City] it was just after the 2015 World Cup in Canada and I was not in a place where I was taking football seriously,” Roebuck told 90min. “I can’t even tell you what state or condition I came into the club like; I don’t even know if I could goal-keep at the time!

“I was still at school with my mates, training twice a week, playing on a Saturday and it’s all a bit surreal to then go into that professional environment. I was staying up late on a school night to watch them [England] on telly in Canada. My mum was like ‘you need to go to bed now, you’ve got school in the morning!’ 

“I remember going to look around the place [Man City] and Lucy [Bronze] was at the place at the time and Steph [Houghton] and all these players who’d just played in a World Cup. Lucy had an unbelievable tournament so to then go in there and see all of them…I think it was after school as well; I was just like ‘this is ridiculous’.

Ellie RoebuckEllie Roebuck
Roebuck has fast established herself as one of the finest goalkeepers in the WSL | George Wood/Getty Images

“Then I signed and my first year at City I still had to do my GCSEs, so I was only in a couple of days a week. But from then on I feel like I’ve lived there for the past four, five years and I’ve loved every minute.”

Roebuck was handed her WSL debut at the age of 18 – unexpectedly thrust into the thick of the action after just three minutes during a top of the table clash against Chelsea in February 2018 following an injury to City’s number one Karen Bardsley.

The teenager turned an incredible performance, pulling off save after save to keep the eventual league champions at bay and preserve a clean sheet and a point for City.

Less than three years earlier she had been staying up to watch these City players star at the World Cup for England; now they were her teammates who she was having to order around.

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“I think at the start I was a bit like ‘I can’t shout at Steph or tell Steph to get into position.’ That’s Steph,” Roebuck added. “But now that’s part of the game, you’ve got to have that.

“I have got louder in that environment; I think as a kid I’ve always been gobby and what have you. I think growing up I’ve always been a loud mouth. I’m from Sheffield, aren’t I?

“I’ve got a big family and everything so you’ve got to kind of let your voice be heard. I think within the group I’ve definitely got more confident. It’s a great environment to be around and it’s class, they’re just your mates aren’t they?”

Another injury to Bardsley enabled Roebuck to make the City number one spot her own during the 2019/20 season.

She was an integral part of the WSL’s meanest backline, with City conceding just nine goals all season. The Citizens ultimately lost out on the league title to Chelsea on points-per-game, despite sitting top of the table before the season’s early curtailment, but Roebuck was awarded the Golden Glove after keeping 10 clean sheets in 16 appearances.

“I was a bit kind of shocked,” Roebuck admitted. “I was chuffed, I was made up. Obviously it was kind of bitter sweet because I wanted the season to end and we felt we were in a good position to crack on and push to the end of the season and see what happened.

“But obviously for reasons that are understandable you can’t do anything about it. But it’s a nice award to receive to give me a platform to build on for next season.

“I want to push on, train hard, hopefully build on this season and if I can have an even better season than this season I’ll be chuffed.”

And it’s quite the few years that Roebuck has lined up for club and country. City are back in the Champions League and head into 2020/21 WSL campaign under the guidance of new manager Gareth Taylor, while Team GB will send a women’s team to the Olympics for just the second time and England have the European Championships on home soil to look forward to in 2022.

“Imagine playing at a home Euros, that would be so special,” Roebuck said. “I don’t think you can beat that. I just want to play in these big tournaments and contribute to the success.

“I think as a country and as a nation we should have that pressure on our shoulders because we’re good enough to win. I think to be able to be a part of that would be class.”

Ellie RoebuckEllie Roebuck
Roebuck has five caps for England | Howard Smith/ISI Photos/Getty Images

From a personal point of view, Roebuck no longer just wants to be involved with the Lionesses squad: she wants to head into these major tournaments as England’s first choice.

“It’s such an exciting few years ahead with the tournaments coming up, I’d love nothing more than to be a part of that,” she added. “I think for me now I don’t just want to be a part of it: I want to go and play.

“I’d love to get a few more caps under my belt for England. I’d love to establish myself as number one, and there’s challenges that come with that, that come with playing for City and playing for England – obviously two great teams and the competition is really high.

“And I’d love to have an Olympic gold medal sat next to my golden glove: that would look lovely.”

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