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Arsenal player Steph from South Hetton, County Durham, makes history
8:30am Thursday 2nd August 2012 in News
GOALDEN girl Steph Houghton has become a household name after powering Team GB’s women footballers to the Olympic quarter- finals.
The 24-year-old Arsenal ladies player, from South Hetton, County Durham, made history by scoring the side’s first Olympic goal, against New Zealand, and has found the net in the other two group matches – some achievement for a defender.
Her’s was the goal that clinched the win over fancied Brazil in front of a 70,000 Wembley crowd, a record for a women’s match.
Her family have been cheering her on from the stands and plan to be in Coventry for the quarter-final showdown with Canada on Friday.
Steph and GB team-mate, fellow former Sunderland Ladies player Jill Scott, are giving the North-East added interest in the competition and raising the profile of the women’s game in the region.
Steph was at Sunderland for several years, working her way to the senior side from the junior ranks after being spotted for the club’s centre of excellence.
She left for Leeds in 2007 when Sunderland were relegated from the Premier League.
Since joining Arsenal, she has won the Women’s Super League and the FA Cup.
Steph, who studied A-levels at Durham Sixth Form College and has a sports science degree, has won 25 England caps but missed the 2007 World Cup and 2009 European Championships through injury.
Steph’s technology teacher at Hetton School, in Hetton-le- Hole, Bill Smithson said her success was being closely followed by the school community. He said: “One of her international shirts is on the school’s wall of fame.
“She was an excellent allround sportswoman – netball, athletics, everything. It was not just football.
“She pioneered some of the girls getting involved in socalled men’s sports.
“The girls used to play fivea- side in the school sports hall rather than 11-a-side outside.
“She was also very popular – she came from a nice family.”
Mr Smithson, who is now retired, said he was impressed by the quality of his former pupil’s goals.
He said: “For someone in the back four to score three goals in three games is quite special.”
The chairman of Sunderland Ladies FC, Maurice Alderson, said: “Everyone at the football club is proud of how she and Jill Scott have performed.
“Obviously Steph has hit the headlines for her goalscoring exploits as well.
“It is great that it raises the profile of women’s football.
“The fact we have got two such high-profile performers who originate from the North- East is great for the area.
“A lot of people in the area are watching it because of the links with the North-East.
“I have known Steph since she was nine and watched her football develop.
“Perhaps Steph has always been slightly in the shadow of Jill, but this tournament she has come into her own and really shone like a beacon.”
Hope is rising that the team will go all the way, but Steph is playing down talk of medals.
“We’ll take one game at a time,’’ she told BBC radio after the Brazil victory.