Aston Villa goalkeeper Hannah Hampton loves proving people wrong. This is what she does throughout her life.
If the doctors and medical professionals were successful, the number one Villans would not play sports, let alone a stopper.
Hampton was born with a strabismus and had many surgeries to try to correct her eyes.
On top of that, she also has no depth perception and her family was told by doctors after she underwent surgery that playing any form of sport was completely off the table when she was growing.
But the England international was not ready to accept a refusal. On the contrary, this news made her even more determined to become a professional footballer and Hampton is now one of the rising stars of the Women’s Super League.
The 21-year-old has been superb for Aston Villa this season, with her excellent distribution and strong reflexes making her a perfect example of a modern goalkeeper.
She is currently riding the crest of the wave after making her England debut against Spain – the country where she spent most of her childhood – last month and Hampton now wants to prove that, whatever the people, anything is possible.
Speaking exclusively to talkSPORT, Hampton said: “My parents obviously knew straight away [that I had a squint]. I was told that I had undergone operations when I was younger. I knew I had had operations, but I didn’t know anything about depth perception, probably until I came back to England from Spain, so probably around 10 or 11 years old.
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“When I was told that and understood what it meant, I was like, ‘This makes so much sense.’ I couldn’t pour a glass of water without missing the glass if I wasn’t holding the glass. If I was tired and wanted to point at something or pick something up, I’d miss the object. I thought, ‘Why? am I doing this?’
“My parents learned that I couldn’t play sports right after the operations and they discovered that I had no depth perception. I couldn’t be an athlete, I couldn’t be a pilot, I couldn’t be a surgeon and I couldn’t be anything else and my parents were just like, ‘No, she’s gonna do whatever she wants,’ so don’t tell me. never said it.
“I don’t think it held me back in any way. I just took it in my stride and wanted to prove people wrong.
Hampton moved with her parents to Spain when she was five years old and it wasn’t long before she was scouted by Villarreal, where she first played as a striker.
It wasn’t until her return to the UK with Stoke City that she spontaneously decided to go in goal for the first time after the team’s number one was injured in the warm-up.
She certainly picked the right game to try out the position, impressing so much in front of an England scout that she decided to stay in goal permanently and Hampton revealed she was something of a secret weapon on her international debut against Spain in the Arnold. Clark cut.
“I speak Spanish fluently, so I could understand everything they were saying,” she laughs.
“[I was] letting people know if they were going in or out, missing or overshooting. It was quite funny to have been able to translate all that.
“To come out and see all the fans cheering was amazing. Singing the national anthem to represent your country is not something many people experience and I’m really grateful for that. I don’t think I got that smile off my face during the national anthem and I had tears in my eyes at one point. It was a huge honor.
“Of all the countries I could have made my debut against, having him against Spain certainly meant a lot to me. To have the confidence to play me in a game like that against a top-flight nation, I can’t thank Sarina [Wiegman] enough and all the staff.
“I didn’t tell anyone that I was starting! I didn’t know if I should say something or not but then I figured the more people in the know the more stress I would put myself on so I didn’t say anything. My parents and everyone discovered it thanks to the line-up.
“My phone was going crazy afterwards, they were like, ‘How come you didn’t tell us?’ or: ‘Why didn’t you want us to come?’ and I was like, ‘Well, I didn’t want to be stressed!’ Luckily my parents were able to come to the game and watch it, which was really nice.
Hampton, however, are not resting on their laurels, with England’s top spot still up for grabs ahead of this summer’s European Championship on home soil.
In her current form, Hampton will certainly give Lionesses boss Sarina Wiegman a selection headache and she credits Aston Villa manager Carla Ward for helping turn her career around.
“Wardy was so good to me at Birmingham and now at Villa. When she came to Birmingham I was definitely falling in love with football and didn’t want to continue,” she concluded.
“I couldn’t really see a future and I couldn’t really imagine where I could go. I thought that was it and I didn’t think I was really good enough to do anything. Wardy came and completely changed that for me and helped me tremendously.
“For me to go on and make that debut and have Wardy watch it and phone him afterwards, it was pretty good that I was able to do that.”
You can listen to Women’s Football Weekly on talkSPORT 2 every Monday at 7pm.
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