United Women forward Ella Toone can't wait for the fixtures ahead
Back representing the team she adores, former United girls’ forward Ella Toone is in the form of her life – and as the teenager tells ManUtd.com, she's “buzzing” to get back on that pitch...
It’s been a slightly different week for me. Usually I’d be at an England camp with my age group, but there hasn’t been one this time, so I’ve been training here. Outside of training, I’ve been out and about with friends – anyone who knows me will tell you I can never sit still!
With 10 goals in your last seven starts you must be very happy with your form?
Yeah, I am. Once you get a few goals under your belt, you step out on the pitch with more belief, and you can see that across the team. Everyone’s buzzing right now.
Four of those goals came against our next opponents, Leicester. Where does that game stand on your list of career highlights?
Right near the top. It was my first senior hat trick, so it was a special night. To then get another goal was unbelievable.
And the skipper put you on penalty duties...
She did. I’ve taken penalties for England [at U17 and U19], so I have experience. Alex knew what it would mean to me to get a hat trick, so credit to her for giving me the ball and believing in me that I could put it away.
No! For some reason I didn’t manage to get it. I don’t know if the referee just forgot, but I’ll have to remember to ask next time!
While this week has all been about focusing on the return game against Leicester, you must all have one eye on next Sunday’s fixture away to Reading...
Yes, that’s a massive test for us in the FA Cup. We lost to Reading back in August and we just want to prove to people how much we’ve improved as a team since then. We’ve come so far – our togetherness, our tactical, physical and technical attributes, they have all improved – and we’re really looking forward to facing them once again.
The recent Continental Tyres League Cup semi-final against Arsenal was strong evidence of the continued progress you talk about...
Absolutely. We’d still only been playing six months, and Arsenal were top of the WSL at the time, but we put on a big performance to show how far we’ve come. We learned lots from that game, and we’ll take that into the Reading match next weekend.
Then there’s the small matter of Spurs away in the league later this month. How much are you looking forward to that?
Of course, we want to put in big performance down there and hopefully get back to the top. We’ve been winning week in, week out but are still second, so we’ve been looking forward to playing our games in hand. Every game is massive now if we want to win the title.
Oh, it would be incredible. I didn’t get much game time at City, but obviously I was happy when they were doing well. United is my team, though – the team I’ve supported since I was little – and to win a medal with United is something I always dreamed of growing up. I still find it unbelievable just to be part of the club’s first ever women’s team.
Looking back to last year when you were still at City, what was your initial reaction when you heard United were to create a senior women’s side?
I was so happy to hear it. I spent a long time with United’s girls, and was gutted to leave this club, as all I ever wanted to do was to keep playing for United. Now I’m back here, it feels like we’re making history every day.
Tell us how your move here came about?
Casey got in touch with my agent, I met Casey, and everything she said I just loved and wanted to be a part of. I’d never met Casey before then but I’d heard a lot about her and watched her play. She was such an important player, and it’s great for me to play under someone with so much experience. She just wants the best for everyone in our squad.
Looking back to your younger years, we hear you were also quite a handy tennis player....
I used to play a bit of tennis, yeah [laughs]. I was all right but I wasn’t an Andy Murray or anything! I used to play all sorts of sports – as I said before I’ve never been able to sit still – but football was always 100 per cent the no.1.
I still live with my mum and dad but I’m always out and about doing something, usually round Mollie, Millie and Charlie’s house – I might as well just live there!
You were one of seven players from United’s girls’ set-up to return. Had you stayed in touch with many of them?
I knew them all, but didn’t play with any of them apart from Em [Ramsey] – and we played for England’s youth teams so stayed in touch. I always looked up to Zel and Millie. I’d look them up on Instagram and see how Zel was getting on at Juventus!
You’re part of England’s U20 set-up, although you missed last summer’s U20 World Cup through injury. How much of a disappointment was that?
I was absolutely gutted, to be honest, as it’s the biggest tournament at that age group. I’d worked so hard to get there, and it was my first injury, so that was hard to take. I struggled at first, but I look back now and think that everything happens for a reason, and that injury made me stronger as a person. I was at United by then, and getting to know my team-mates more every day, so there were benefits, although I do love representing my country.
Let’s finish with our incredible fans. How much do you enjoy hearing ‘Toon-eee!’ ring around the stands?
I love my chant, it’s class! All the chants from the fans are great, especially as we’re walking out on to the pitch, when it gives you a little boost ahead of the game. I love the banners they’ve created also [above left]. We’re so lucky to have such great support.
Born: Tyldesley, Wigan
2007-13 Manchester United (girls)
2013-16 Blackburn Rovers (girls)
2016-18 Manchester City
International career: England (youth)