Millie Bright column: ‘I kept refreshing Twitter to get World Cup confirmation’

Millie Bright column: ‘I kept refreshing Twitter to get World Cup confirmation’

Chelsea and England defender Millie Bright will be writing columns for the BBC Sport website throughout the rest of the season, as the national team attempt to win this summer’s World Cup in France.

It’s been two days since the email landed in my inbox to say that I’d been picked for the England squad for my first World Cup, but it’s yet to truly sink in.

Part of that has been the amazing way that the squad was announced on Wednesday, when various celebrities from Emma Watson to David Beckham publicised each of the 23 players via social media.

That aspect came as a huge surprise to all the players as we had no idea how it would be made public. Even though we had all found out 24 hours earlier, it’s a new feeling every time someone tells you you’re going to the World Cup.

It made for a tense morning, though. I was with my England and Chelsea team-mate Carly Telford on Wednesday morning, having only slept a few hours the previous evening after we got back late from our match at Yeovil, and we were both refreshing Twitter like mad!

For some reason, we still needed that confirmation to make it feel official, and I’m just glad we both didn’t have to wait too long to get it.

When Prince William announced that Steph Houghton would be leading the Lionesses this summer at 8am, we both shouted ‘Oh my God!’ as we realised what was going on, but we were still nervous waiting for ours to pop up and excited to see who would be announcing our names.

It was really nice that entrepreneur and Chelsea fan Jamal Edwards announced my name. Look him up, he’s got a special story and I was genuinely touched for him to speak so passionately and genuinely about the Lionesses.

The squad announcement also gave you a special moment by yourself with your friends and family. When the email landed, we were told not to tell anyone for danger of the news leaking out. I told my mum, but when the news was made public a day later, it was another chance to share my excitement with those closest to me.

I’m so proud to represent my country at a World Cup because lots of players don’t ever get that opportunity, including our manager Phil Neville. He’s reminded us of all the hard work he put in to try and get there, only for him to never make it past the last hurdle.

Based on his personal disappointments, I think he had a big part to play in how the squad was announced, which was a very nice touch. It shows he cares about the players – to go that extra mile means a lot to us. That won’t be forgotten in the next month or two.

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You need to cherish moments like this with loved ones because, at times, it can be hard being so close to a professional footballer.

I’ll admit that if we lose a game I’ll be in a right mood afterwards, especially over the last few weeks when we have been so unfortunate to lose an FA Cup semi-final to Manchester City and a Champions League semi-final to Lyon.

In both ties, I think we deserved to win and it took me a couple of days to get over the results. I need space to myself in those kinds of moments. My mum will ask me questions or ask me to cheer up, and I’m like ‘no’. You need your time to be in that mood because you can’t just switch it off.

Being vice-captain at Chelsea, I’ve learnt to manage my emotions better this season and have matured massively but part of that is embracing those feelings of disappointment rather than suppressing them and pretending everything is ok.

In the past, I tried to put on a brave face and smile after a defeat but then it would backfire in training and I’d get frustrated. Now I just embrace it, let it out and then two days later I’m back in training and ready for the next game.

After a game, it’s just knowing the right times to ask things and choosing the right moment to talk about football again. It’s difficult for my family at times, and I give them credit because they do try. They learned a lot about that at Euro 2017, which was my first tournament and theirs, so hopefully that should hold us in good stead for the World Cup.

I kept a journal in that tournament, too, which I’ll also be doing in France. It helped me capture the journey and proved a good outlet for my thoughts if I was having a bad day. It seemed like a better idea to write thoughts down rather than potentially offload to a team-mate and bring them down.

Chelsea’s loss to Lyon in the Champions League semi-final was hard to take for Bright, whose team will miss out on playing in the competition next season after finishing third in the Women’s Super League

My boyfriend will also be coming to France for his first tournament supporting me. We moved into a new house together last week, so it’s been a mad few days.

He knows how to deal with me; he’s learned pretty quickly. It can be extra hard for a partner of a professional women’s footballer because it comes with a lot of expectation and pressure.

We are also away a lot and plans change at short notice, but he understands it, which is why it works. That’s not always been the case with past boyfriends, but it doesn’t make them a bad person, it just means you’re not compatible. No-one should be punished for not being able to cope, but as players, we have to put our football first, and that can’t really be an issue.

It’s different for partners in the women’s game compared to the men’s game because it’s not like I earn enough for mine to potentially work part-time or not at all. He works full-time, which brings its own pressures and stresses, but he knows how much football means to me and that it’s going to be here for a while yet.

Football is my priority. It’s a short career and you have to make the most of it, which is why making the World Cup squad is such a big deal and something I will never take for granted.

Millie Bright was talking to BBC Sport’s Alistair Magowan.

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