Full Name: Rebecca Leigh Spencer
Date of Birth: 22/02/1991
Age: 29 years Old
Place of Birth: Brent
How old were you when you first started playing football and did you always want to be a goalkeeper?
I started playing football at around 5yrs old but began in an actual team at around 7yrs old, I didn’t always want to play in goal from the start so I started out as a midfielder.
What was the women’s football scene like when you first started playing and did you face any adversity growing up as a girl wanting to play football?
With all 3 of my sisters playing football as I was growing up for teams like Wembley and Watford I was involved right a way in terms of being around the football scene in the 90s so it was really all I knew growing up. It seemed fairly popular back then but obviously it’s grown huge amounts since.
I never faced any adversity being a girl, I was accepted into my very first team Wembley FC which was a boys team and I was one of two girls who played in that team. I played right until I wasn’t allowed to play for them anymore, I’d get the odd comment from most opposition teams but I just thrived off the comments.
Where and when did you get your big break?
I had a number of opportunities at different clubs so I can’t say one specific big break, obviously being at Arsenal for the majority of growing up was a big thing. I broke into the first team squad there at the age of 14 when I made my first appearance at 14 coming on as a sub against Sunderland and featured a few times in the first team as an under study. Along side playing for Arsenal I was heavily involved with the England youth teams through out, coming to Birmingham was a big break through for me as its allowed me to play regularly at the top level which is what I’ve always wanted and needed.
Did you face any obstacles along the way, ever think you weren’t going to make it to where you are now and if so how did you get past the obstacles?
I haven’t faced many obstacles, I’d say the frustration of not playing a lot from the age of 14-19 was one of my biggest obstacles and I solved it by going on loan to Gillingham for a season and also going to France to play but unfortunately that didn’t work out and then I got the call from Birmingham and since then I’ve not looked back.
Who was your biggest influence growing up?
I’d say my family as a whole are influences, I always wanted to follow in the footsteps of my sisters growing up and the continuous support from my parents and the time, money and effort they’ve put into helping me achieve it means it’s only right I try my best to make them proud of me.
How do you prepare for a big game?
I prepare for each game the same whether it be an FA Cup Final, a league game or a friendly. I like to play with no worries or feeling of pressure, so my main thing to help me is to just relax and to go into each and every game relaxed but ready to do what’s required and expected of me.
Any tips on warm-ups?
I’d say every keeper has different thoughts on how they want to warm up, as long as I’ve been consistent in the warm up I feel I can take it into the game.
Are you superstitious or do you have any pre-game rituals?
I don’t have any rituals or superstitions.
What techniques do you employ to keep focused for the full 90 minutes?
To stay concentrated for 90mins I think communication plays a big part, it keeps you in the game even when you’re not having the busiest game. It helps you to stay involved through out and also helps your team mates huge amounts, even if it’s just words of encouragement or little reminders to them – anything helps.
What goalkeeper gloves do you wear and how important is the right goalkeeper glove to you?
I’m currently wearing The One Glove company gloves and they are hands down the best gloves I’ve worn in my career. They provide great grip and fit, I’ve tried each style that they produce to come to my favourite glove and I recommend that any goalkeepers out there give them a try.
Since you’ve started playing what is the most important bit of advice you’ve been given and by whom?
I can’t pin point advice from just one person, I’ve had the pleasure of working with some great coaches and players and they’ve all given me little bits of advice along the way. My dad still to this day tells me to just enjoy every part of what I do because there’s a lot of people out there who would love to be in my position.
What’s been your biggest career highlight(s) so far?
I have a few career highlights but winning the Euros with England u19s back in 2009 has to be the highlight. Not conceding a single goal on a stage like that and winning such a big trophy with a great group of staff and players was just incredible.
Who is/has been your toughest opponent and do you prepare differently to face them? (Team and player)?
Playing Tyreso in the Champions League Semi Final, we came up against some world class players in Vero Bouquets, Marta, Christen Press so I’d have to say they are the toughest opponents I’ve come up against. I didn’t prepare differently just the same as every other game.
Any advice you could give to young goalkeepers trying to break through?
My advice for any young goalkeepers would be to enjoy playing football and enjoy each challenge and use each challenge as a stepping stone to becoming the best you can be.
What football club do you support?
I support Manchester United!
Away from the football pitch and training ground what do you enjoy doing?
When I’m not playing football I spend a lot of time with my family, I’m very close to my family so I love to go home and spend as much time as possible with them. I also spend a lot of time with my partner and friends, it’s important to have that balance and mental break away from football now and again.
Having played at Arsenal, Gillingham, Birmingham City and ASJ Soyaux (in the French League) what are the differences between the clubs?
It’s hard to compare each club, they have all got different qualities and it has been nice to experience different things. I’ve been very lucky with the experiences I’ve been through at each one and I have faced up and downs at each one.
We recently did an article on goalkeeper height in the female game as it’s such an important part of the male game, at 5ft 5½ have you ever had any problems because of your height?
Growing up I used to really struggle height wise but as you grow older and develop as a person height becomes just a number.
There’s ways to compete being smaller, things like working on your spring, timing and strength all help improve you as a smaller keeper, when I play in goal I don’t feel small so I think it’s a mental battle half the time.
The women’s game seems to keep growing and growing, how much do you notice the changes from inside the game?
The game has grown huge amounts, it’s come on leaps and bounds. I feel the work and effort going into the grass roots section of women’s football has made the game grow huge amounts, it’s encouraged young and up and coming girls to develop and get involved which ensures the supply of good women footballers won’t run out.
With the WSL2 and WSL1 it gives other teams/players an incentive to get there, the coverage is also improving as you can see with all of the women’s World Cup games being shown live on TV so things are really going in the right direction.
How big do you think the female game will get to? Do you ever see it rivaling the Men’s game?
I like to think there’s no limit on how big the women’s game could get. It will just take time, support and funding ,also in England I feel there’s still a lot of people unsure about women playing football so hopefully the more coverage we get the more mind sets will be changed.
Thanks very much Becky Spencer!