With one goal already under her belt this Women’s World Cup 2019, Women’s Super League record goal-scorer Nikita Parris is rightly being tipped as a Lioness to watch. A stellar 2018-19 season saw the 25-year-old win the FA Cup, League Cup and FWA Women’s Footballer of the Year award, and she recently completed a move from Manchester City to European champions Lyon. She’s already imprinted herself on the consciousness of the wider footballing community: of all the celebrity names to announce this summer’s Lionesses squad, Parris’s place was confirmed by none other than former England captain David Beckham – one number 7 to another. Inspired by his “practice makes perfect” mentality, the Toxteth-born player is hoping to have a similar impact in that iconic shirt. Here, she shares her match day rituals, hair care routine and future goals with Vogue.
How did you get into football?
I started playing aged seven in the front garden with my brothers. I’ve been a Liverpool FC supporter for as long as I can remember, my mum always bought me the latest kit, and I would imitate my fa-vourite players [Michael] Owen, [Fernando] Torres and [Luis] Suárez.
Does the 2019 Women’s World Cup feel different to you?
The men’s World Cup really galvanised the nation into believing England have the talent to win. In 2015, the players won bronze in Canada and the game has moved on so much. We’ve put in the graft to ensure we can compete and beat the best teams in the world.
Which England team-mate do you get on with the best?
Me and fellow scouser Toni Duggan are a double act. We are always pre-planning some sort of practical joke.
What are your match day rituals?
I put the left side of everything on first: sock, boots, shin pads. I always bless myself before entering the field because I am so grateful for the talent the Lord has blessed me with.
Go-to beauty products?
I use Palmers Coconut Oil for my skin. My hair routine is thorough: I hot oil my hair every two Sun-days after games, top it up with coconut oil every third day and deep condition my hair every two days. My blonde streaks dry my hair out and the Cantu range works for me.
What are your interests off the pitch?
Finding ways to get young people engaged in sport. I recently started my own NP17 Academy within Liverpool Community College which gives 16-19-year-old girls an opportunity to embark on a sports career, whether it be as a coach, player, physio or nutritionist.
Do you still have to have a back-up career in addition to being a footballer?
We are now paid to train full-time, but the average age of retirement is 34-36, so a plan B is important. Completing my degree in Sports Development at Liverpool’s John Moores University while being full-time at Manchester City is one of my greatest achievements.
What excites you most about the future of women’s football?
How far we can take the game. There is much more that can be done with women’s football product, we need more brand support, media outlets, commercial partners and us players setting examples for the next generation to ignite more interest.
What goals have you set yourself for the 2019 Women’s World Cup?
I am unbelievably excited for my first world cup and can’t wait to showcase my talent on the biggest stage there is. As a team we want to inspire a generation and lift it on July 7.