Life between the sticks can be tough for a goalkeeper. You’re competing for one position, if you don’t start it’s unlikely you’re going to be involved as a sub, and as a member of the ‘GK Union’, your role is to push the player selected to start, no matter how disappointed you might be.
For Carly Telford, that member of the supporting cast has often been her role, largely as third choice keeper for England in her career. But look at a photo of an England training session, or a video that the FA has put together, and you only ever see Telford with a smile on her face.
It’s incredible to think that the Chelsea stopper has been involved in the England setup since 2007, , but the opportunities have been few and far between, with last week’s match against Wales being just her tenth appearance.
Despite the result not going England’s way, keeping a clean sheet is a gold star next to any keeper in a World Cup qualifier, and for Telford, the major positive on a largely frustrating day.
“It’s a fantastic feeling, but we’re obviously disappointed not to win,” she said.
“But for me and for us as a back four or five, clean sheets is what’s going to win us this group, and hopefully a major championship.
“So for us it’s about keeping clean sheets, getting into good habits, and letting the forward players do the rest. Tonight just wasn’t our night.”
When the chances come to represent your country, as a goalkeeper, you arguably have more pressure to shine because any mistake, any mishap, and that’s what you’re remembered for, regardless of how you perform for the rest of the match.
For Telford, there is sure to have been some envy, but also relief, that she was at the other end as she watched counterpart Laura O’Sullivan produce the performance of her life to deny England on numerous occasions.
Other than a Rachel Rowe effort in the first half that forced Telford to fling herself to her right, and a corner that she will know she should have done better with that led to a Lucy Bronze clearance off the line, the England stopper didn’t have a huge amount to do.
It’s those sorts of games, she admitted, where you have to be even more focused, because there are moments when you have to be alert, when you may have had a period of time of not having touched the ball.
“Sometimes they are the harder ones, you might go 15 minutes and not touch the ball, then someone is running through on goal.
“I’m probably in a similar position at Chelsea, where opponents will sometimes sit off and I won’t have a lot to do in a game, so I’m kind of in good practice.
“But I just wanted to take this opportunity to shine, because I haven’t had a lot of them.”
Telford is correct when she says the opportunities had been few and far between. She made her debut against Scotland eleven years ago, and as mentioned already, only made her tenth appearance last Friday.
This is in no way a reflection on her talent, more the competition she has faced during that period. The likes of Rachel Brown-Finnis, Siobhan Chamberlain and Karen Bardsley have often been preferred, but ask regular viewers of the women’s game, and they’ll tell you Telford is equal to their talents and has clearly been unfortunate not to make more appearances.
But the one thing you cannot do with the north east born keeper, is wipe the smile off her face. She takes a huge amount of pride in representing her country, in whatever capacity, and as a member of the GK Union, will play her part, whatever her role.
She concluded that the game on Friday against Wales was special, not just for her, but her family too.
“I just want to make my country proud, my parents proud and every time I pull on that jersey, whether I touch the ball one time or 100 times, my aim is to help this team win.
“As a goalkeeper it can get frustrating because you can think ‘when am I going to get a chance, I’m playing well in the league and doing all this stuff,’ but as I’ve said before, whether I’m crossing that white line or sat on the bench, I’m doing someone hundreds of thousands of young girls want to do.
“I don’t want to take that for granted, but I hope I did myself proud, Phil (Neville) has given me a chance, and I hope he’ll give me another one.”