Kirsty Hanson on “Living Her Dream” at Manchester United

The 2019/20 season was another step in the right direction for the Women’s Super League and was a season to remember for Scotland international and Manchester United star Kirsty Hanson who is living her “dream”.

Kirsty started her footballing journey at Manchester United, before moving to Liverpool.

The winger then signed for FA WSL 2 club Sheffield FC a year later in search of her first taste of senior football where she was given the chance to show her quality.

After just six months at Sheffield, Kirsty was snapped up by Doncaster Rovers Belles and aged just 18 – netted her first goals as she became a key player in the side.  

At the end of the 2017/18 campaign she had scored 14 goals in 32 appearances for Rovers, helping the club win the FA WSL 2 title. 

She said:

“I joined Sheffield on a development loan from Liverpool as Pauline Hamill said I needed to play first team football. I didn’t get a lot of minutes as I was young.

“Sheffield FC are a very historic club and had a lot of well-established players and not many younger players like me. I learned a lot from them though, most importantly to never give up as I was contemplating giving up at one point during my time there.

 

“I went to Leeds Beckett University and the coach there was the manager of Doncaster Belles. She told me I was a great player and that I deserved to be playing regularly and that I should join them, so I’ve done exactly that.

“I went along and absolutely loved my time there and played alongside some fantastic players such as Christie Murray. The coach Emma Coates had so much belief in me and it made me so confident as that’s something I lack in, so I am grateful that they gave me the opportunity to play regular full-time football.” 

Believe it or not, just over a two years ago the Red Devils women’s team was formed and in the last 18 months, they’ve won the Women’s Championship and finished a fantastic fourth in their debut in the Women’s Super League last term.

The striker managed to notch eight goals last term and put her name on the map as she received a shock call up for Shelley Kerr’s side’s EURO 2021 qualifier away in Albania in November and the call up was that much of a surprise, Kirsty didn’t even know where the national side were playing.

“I was caught off guard to be honest. I was training with United and Casey said that Shelley wanted to speak to me, and I said, Shelley Kerr? I got on the phone and she asked me to come to Albania which was a huge surprise as I thought the game was at home.”

Although the 22-year-old was jumping with joy about her first call up to the first team, there was once a particular aspect of returning to the Balkan country which brought up some bad memories.

In 2016, Hanson travelled to Albania with current Scotland and Chelsea star Erin Cuthbert as part of the U19’s squad for EURO 2016 qualifying.  

Hanson, who scored eight goals in 14 games for the youth international sides, scored a hat-trick in an 11-0 in the opening fixture against Albania and the second against Cyprus in an 8-0 rout. That set up a group decider against Serbia but it never took place and the Serbs were eventually awarded a win as Scotland were falsely accused of drinking when in reality, they were struck with a food poisoning bug. 

“As soon as I got off the phone I was buzzing, but when I thought of Albania and the past memories, I was like oh great! 

“I went out to support the girls at the World Cup last year against England and it just shows how much Scottish football is coming on as a whole. It’s such a good team filled with great players. I believe we will get to more tournaments. 

“I was injured unfortunately during the Pinatar Cup tournament in March which the girls won, but it made me even more eager to get picked again.”

Kirsty’s mum Shona Urquhart was a heptathlon athlete for Great Britain and Scotland, so she gives her a lot of advice on competing for the national team and the striker is keen to follow in her footsteps. 

In October 2019, Kirsty was recognised for her impressive early season performances in the WSL by no other than Arsenal legend Ian Wright, who awarded her the Barclays Women’s Super League player of the month. 

“I wasn’t expecting it to be honest with you and it was a really good surprise on Twitter. My brothers an Arsenal supporter as well so he was very jealous. The video he put together was amazing and even just being recognised by a legend like Ian really boosted my confidence.” 

The Red Devils finished an impressive fourth in last season’s early- curtailed season and Hanson believes that it was a step in the right direction and stated that there is a lot more to come from her side as the new season is set to get underway in the next couple of weeks.

“Our aim last season was to finish in the top half of the table so to finish fourth was amazing. We weren’t far off the top teams and that’s our aim for next season, top three. We showed we can compete with the likes of Manchester City and Chelsea. 

“Casey {Stoney} has done a fantastic job in developing young players like me and even some younger players who are coming through the ranks also. She installs so much confidence in the whole team to play week in week out against top teams  

“In all honesty, I didn’t expect to get much game time last season, but I worked extra hard last pre-season just to show I am capable of playing In the WSL as it was my first season in the top division.”

Hanson was recently awarded a new one-year deal for her hard work. 

She said:

“I was absolutely delighted to get a new contract at this fantastic club. When I was offered it, I couldn’t say no, I love everything, the training, the staff, the essence, and the team. I’ve never been in a team like it.” 

Last season saw some record-breaking crowds in the WSL and Hanson was part of the United squad that faced off against rivals Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium in front of more than 31,000 spectators. 

“I think playing WSL games in big stadiums is an excellent idea, but I think it needs to be publicised more. Our game was the first game of the season, so everyone was buzzing as you’d expect. Having these games during the season is great and attracts so many fans as the attendance showed.  

Hanson has already set off from where she left last season as she netted in a United’s first pre-season against Scottish Champions Glasgow City last weekend and is hoping to kick on and have another exceptional season.


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