More than 12 years after being called up for the 2007 Women's World Cup, Carly Telford played her first match at a major tournament on Friday night – keeping a clean sheet in England's 1-0 win over Argentina in Le Havre.
Speaking after the match, Telford opened up on an emotional night for her and her Lionesses teammate Fran Kirby.
"I've been to three World Cups and some European Championships, so I was ready. I've waited for this moment a long time, when you've done the miles and the hours that I have...I couldn't have felt more prepared. The girls kept saying they're proud of me, telling me I'm ready and to just go out there and be me.
"I would've loved my mum to have seen my World Cup debut, but I always carry her with me and she never leaves my side – she'll continue to be on my journey the rest of this tournament and hopefully many more. I was thinking 'keep it together, keep it together' on the bus. I always do this tribute to her after the anthems, and since she passed I made sure she was with me in a different way.
"She actually hated watching me play football, so she probably would've missed tonight for being too nervous! But like I said to Fran [Kirby] tonight – it would've been her mum's birthday today – I said 'look, our mums'll be upstairs watching us do our thing'. No doubt they were looking over us and enjoying it."
England took the best part of an hour to break the deadlock at the Stade Océane, with Argentina stopper Vanina Correa saving a Nikita Parris penalty in the first half as part of an excellent display between the sticks.
Telford praised her opposite number, saying: "The Argentina keeper was fantastic, we've had a couple of good performances from keepers here. I think the standard has improved again, and it's only going to go up from now. The way the women's game's going, it's more professional, there's more investment in the goalkeeping area, you're only going to see performances getting better.
"There are nations that are struggling and are 5-10 years behind some of the teams who have had the investment, but that's to be expected. In some of those places they're not professionals, so you can't penalise them for that. I hope they can get a little bit of luck and get out of the group."