Galton: I've always wanted to play in the Champions League
Manchester United Women’s Leah Galton has spoken about her dream to represent the Reds in the Champions League at some point in the future.
Our winger has enjoyed brilliant experiences in the United States, Germany and now in England with United, but has yet to get a first-hand experience of European football’s elite club competition.
The Reds agonisingly missed out on qualifying for this season’s tournament, in which the group stage is currently ongoing, having finished just a place and a point outside the top three (the qualification spots) in the 2020/21 Women’s Super League.
But speaking in an exclusive interview which features in the latest edition of our monthly magazine, Inside United, Galton says that the Reds have sights set on going that one step further this time around.
“I definitely think so,” Leah says when asked if a Champions League spot is our target this season.
“It always has been since we’ve been in the WSL, and we haven’t quite made it yet. We’ve been pretty close but we’re hoping we can get there this year.”
As a player who has been on the journey with United Women since the beginning in 2018, Galton explains that she would relish for us to have the opportunity to test ourselves against the continent’s best teams.
In the interview, during which our no.11 also discusses her footballing journey and pre-match rituals among several other topics, she says that playing in the competition would also allow her to fulfil a lifelong ambition of her own.
“I really want to play in the Champions League. That’s something I haven’t done, and I’ve always said I wanted to do that," Galton explained.
“Just to get there will be a dream come true, even if we get knocked out in the first round. Just walking out to the song, knowing that you’re in the Champions League; it would be a great feeling, to be honest.
“It would be nice to play against foreign opposition, your Barcelonas and stuff. It would be a great experience and it would be great to see where we are compared to those types of teams, which we don’t know now because we don’t play them.”
To open up a pathway into next season’s competition, the Reds would need to secure a top three finish in this WSL campaign.
Marc Skinner’s side currently occupy fifth spot after six matches but have only lost one of those games in the opening weeks of the season.
Galton says our ambition has been to get amongst the leading sides in the division ever since our promotion to the top flight back in 2019, and she hopes we can push to do that again in the current campaign, but our no.11 also acknowledges the difficulty of that task.
“It’s definitely a challenge," she said.
"Everyone knows, coming into the WSL, you’ve got Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and then everyone else.
“Obviously they’re [the other teams in the WSL] really strong too, but it’s usually a gap between them and the top three, so we kind of knew that we wanted to be in that gap and higher.
“That was our aim and that still is our aim. It’s hard because every team is getting stronger every year. Someone who finished bottom last year might now come fifth, so you know every game is going to be a challenge and you can’t really think you only get a tough match against the top three, as it’s a challenge against everybody.”