Nicole Westall

Nicole Westall, (born 04 July 1991 in Manchester) is an English football player who currently plays in England for Arsenal Ladies. Previously, she was the only English football player to play in the England Ladies National team whilst playing for a club outside of the WPL (Womens Premier League). She is regarded as one of the best young players in the sport, and many clubs all over the World are believed to be tracking her progress.

Club career

While growing up in the West Gorton area of Manchester, she regularly played football on boys' teams at U-5 and U-6 level, she then signed up for Fletcher Moss Girls F.C in 1997, where she was closely watched by several clubs. In 2005, she transferred from Fletcher Moss to Manchester City L.F.C, when she enjoyed some of her best years in the sport so far, scoring 102 goals in 3 seasons. She rejected several contract offers from Arsenal Ladies, Everton Ladies and also Chelsea Ladies. Nicole suffered her first serious injury in the 2006-2007 season, during the Lancashire County Cup Semi-Final against Blackburn Ladies. She was injured in a malicious challenge which left her with a broken leg, dislocated knee and extensive damage to her ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) and MCL (Medial Cruciate Ligament). The injury sidelined Nicole for 9 months, during which she attended various rehabilitation classes and intense physiotherapy.

During the 2007-2008 season, after Manchester City L.F.C's early exit in the Lancashire County Cup, it is understood Nicole was contacted by Vic Akers, Manager of Arsenal Ladies, she then agreed what is understood to be a "pay as you play" contract of around £6,000 per week set to rise to £7,500 per week in January 2009.

Nicole signed for Arsenal Ladies officially in Septemer 2008, and was immediately selected in the first team squad to play Charlton Ladies which Arsenal Ladies Won 6-2. Nicole's immediate first team call-up caused some un-ease in the dressing room, and it was believed several members of the first team did not make her feel welcome, and left her out of several team building exercises. Nicole has since denied that stating "it's all part of the settling in process, people are reading too much into it, because it's me, and because it's Arsenal".

Nicole has since declared herself happy at the club, and has since featured in three First Team games, coming off the bench late on. She has amazed in the reserve team during recent weeks, coming off the bench to score 2 goals in 7 minutes in the 7-0 win against Keynsham Town and also scoring a thundering free kick to win the game for Arsenal L.F.C. Reserves 3-2 against Bristol Academy.

Westall is rapidy becoming well known throughout the football world, with many clubs interested in signing her, and also being asked to conduct many media interviews. It is understood manager Vic Akers is trying to ban several media companies from the Arsenal training complex including Setanta, for their constant persuit of an interview from the youngster.

Teammate Kelly Smith has been criticised for her comments to the press regarding Westall, during which she stated that Westall is the next big thing in Women's Football, and has the potential to become the best player in the World, even exceeding Smith herself. These comments were criticised by many, with people arguing it adds alot of pressure to the 17 year old, and the pressure could in fact ruin her career.

Many pundits and several managers have stated that Nicole Westall is one of the most promising youngsters they have ever seen, and that she should be protected from the media limelight, however Westall herself told the press "It's to be expected when you play for the best team in the World, when I signed my contract here, i knew there would be some interest from the press, maybe not this much, but i'll let my football do the talking, it wasn't media interviews that got me to Arsenal, it was my football, and I hope that continues".

International career

She played for the at the age of 16 and helped the team qualify for the 2008 FIFA Under 17's World Cup in New Zealand, only to be left out of the squad. She has played 19 Under 17's matches and scored 9 goals, and got 2 caps for the England Women's First Team during her time at Manchester City L.F.C. making her the first player to play for her national team from outside the top division domestically.

Westall was voted Women's British Young Player of the Year in 2008, and fifth in the FA Women's British Player of the year award in May. 2008.

She also picked up the player of the tournament award for the qualifying stages of the 2008 FIFA U-17's World Cup, but was omitted from the final squad, apparently because of concerns for he safety.

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