In profile: Mary Earps
As United Women's debut in front of an Old Trafford crowd edges ever closer, we want to give you the opportunity to get to know the team's players that little bit better, starting with goalkeeper and WSL ever-present, Mary Earps.
Since joining the club in 2019, the England international has been a mainstay between the sticks for United in the league, but where did her footballing journey begin? What did she study at university? And which German club did she win a double with before signing for United? You can find all the answers and more cool details on our shot-stopper below...
Looking at her career record, Mary Earps must be one of the most experienced players in the United squad?
She is – in fact Mary was lining up for her hometown side Nottingham Forest as far back as 2010/11 (of the current squad, only Jade Moore, Diane Caldwell and Lucy Staniforth were also playing senior football at that time) with Mary recently surpassing 200 club appearances, to go with her 15 for England. And best of all, she’s only just turned 29 this month.
In 2011, when still a teenager. After six strong displays for second-tier Forest, Doncaster Rovers Belles – then an established top-flight side – came calling ahead of the inaugural WSL season. Mary’s rapid rise up the pyramid of the women’s game came as no surprise to those who had seen her commanding displays from when she first donned the gloves for West Bridgford Colts, the Nottinghamshire team south of the River Trent near where she grew up, and then at Leicester City’s centre of excellence.
She does come across as a dedicated individual – and one who isn’t afraid to speak up! Has that always been the case?
It has. Her time with Donny Belles coincided with her starting a four-year degree (in information management and Business studies) at Loughborough Uni, which meant plenty of travelling, plenty of studies when she wasn’t saving shots (for England’s youth teams as well by that stage), with Mary’s natural authority and decisiveness in the penalty area further enhancing her reputation. “I do have a quite big personality!” she admitted.
So what came next after Donny?
A season at Birmingham City – who had just qualified for the 2013/14 Champions League after finishing WSL runners-up – was the next step up, and 20-year-old Mary made her bow in that competition in November 2013 as the Blues beat Russian side Zorky 5-2 at St Andrew’s. That was one of 15 appearances for Mary that season, although with her having to share goalkeeping duties with another emerging stopper, current Spurs keeper Rebecca Spencer, she was on the move again in the WSL in 2103 – first to Bristol Academy for two seasons, followed by a three-season stint with Reading, during which she was named in the FA’s WSL Team of the Year for 2016/17. After knocking on the door to win a first senior England cap, by now it was surely a matter of time, and Earps achieved that honour in the summer of 2017, keeping a clean sheet in a 4-0 friendly win against Switzerland.
Not yet, but that was soon to change when Mary made the move to Germany in the summer of 2018 to join Wolfsburg. Having just won the German double and reached the Champions League final, Die Wolfinnen (the She-wolves) won another double in 2018/19, with current Chelsea ace Pernille Harder smashing goals in for the German side at a remarkable rate. But with so much talent within the squad, Mary’s game-time was limited, and she wanted regular first-team football.
She’s certainly had that at United…
Absolutely. Since her debut for the Reds following her move from Wolfsburg (away to Manchester City at the Etihad in September 2019), no Red has played as regularly. Just last month she made her 50th WSL appearance for the club, while as of this season she’s now played more games for the Reds than for any other team in her senior career. At the time of writing, 26 of those 64 games have finished with her keeping a clean sheet, with former head coach Casey Stoney, and now current boss Marc Skinner, regularly singing her praises. "She's wonderfully resolute, resilient and she's just got a brilliant aura about her", said Skinner last month.
And she’s back in the England squad also, yes?
Her performances have indeed led to an England recall since Sarina Wiegman took charge of the Lionesses last year. Alongside City’s Ellie Roebuck and Aston Villa’s Hannah Hampton – among others – Wiegman has a wealth of options in that position as she looks ahead to this summer’s Euros, and that Earps has put herself into such strong contention for a starting berth for England’s opening game v Austria – to be played at Old Trafford on 6 July – is to her immense credit. As part of a young Lionesses squad, Earps’s experience and personality could count for a lot come the summer. “My focus, obviously, has been United for the last couple of years, so to be honest, to be back in the England squad is a bit surreal and I’m hugely grateful for the opportunity,” admits Mary about her international recall last year. “I’m very proud.” And so are United fans to be able to call you our keeper.
Tickets to see Earps and co take on Everton at Old Trafford on Sunday 27 March are on sale now and you can secure yours by visiting manutd.com/womenstickets.