2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appIn Izzy Christiansen’s words, “everything kind of started tumbling down” and she briefly considered leaving football altogether.
She felt lost at Lyon, the six-times Champions League winners she joined in July 2018, and in March 2019, against Japan at the SheBelieves Cup, sustained the injury that put paid to her World Cup. The moral of that story? “Don’t play unless you’re in a good place mentally.” Christiansen releases a peal of laughter and drinks her water.
This is Christiansen’s first newspaper interview since returning to Everton in December – she played here as a teenager while studying PE, psychology and biology A-levels – and the club’s biggest signing wears her annus horribilis lightly. “I’m in a really happy place, and a really nice club,” she says chirpily, sat in a box at Goodison where Everton Women host Liverpool on Sunday in front of an expected crowd of 20,000.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appWillie Kirk, the Everton manager, admits signing the former PFA Women’s Player of the Year is such a coup that a member of his backroom staff was “still pinching himself at the fact he’s just signed her”.
Christiansen could have remained in France, but “just never took my eyes off the idea of coming to this club”. It is a marked shift from the conversation she had with her mother, part way through rehabilitation for her broken leg and damaged ankle ligaments.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围app“‘I want to give up. I don’t want to play anymore’, ” the 28-year-old recalls. “My mum was really supportive. ‘Whatever you want, we’ll support, because your livelihood is more important than a game that revolves around a ball’. Of course it’s crossed my mind, and I think it’s crossed a lot of people’s minds. It’s just when you get in a bad place. But I knew that was not the right thing to do. It wasn’t necessarily a serious thought – just emotional.”
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appShe feels now, “after a lot of reflection” that she “broke my leg because my head wasn’t in the right place. I was too nervous and uptight about doing well and knowing that there was a World Cup place at stake.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appI remember Phil [Neville] picked me out in front of the team before the game: ‘You’re playing because you’re good enough. You’re a really important member of this team’. He gave me a lot of encouragement in front of everyone, which was a bit abnormal. At the time, I didn’t know I needed it.
“The whole of the first half, I completely lost my head. Every time the ball came to me, it was like a hot potato. I planted my foot, about to score a goal, literally a tap-in – bang. In that split second, your life can change or your world can crash, and it crashed. Can you bounce back? That’s one thing about me: I’ll never give up.”
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围appThe World Cup does not bother her now. “I don’t know whether I ever would have been ready to go off the back of being injured,” she shrugs, “but time helps, and just being happy with what you do every day.”
That injury was the nadir of a difficult few months following Christiansen’s move from Manchester City to the best women’s team in Europe. She doesn’t think loneliness “is the right word” and asserts that none of what follows is a “moan”, but wants to warn those moving abroad to find a stable support network. “Because I wasn’t out of my depth in terms of performing,” she explains. “I didn’t feel like I shouldn’t be there. I think mentally I struggled.
“When I first moved to Lyon, I struggled in terms of establishing myself within the team, just as a person. Maybe not many people understood me. With that, with the language barrier, I just didn’t really connect with anyone. Being a bubbly, lively, jokey person in the dressing room, to then being a non-existent character.
2020欧洲杯体育足彩外围app“Lyon’s full of stars, world-class players. They don’t care what they say to people. They don’t care what they do as long as they win. No one really necessarily gets along with each other. It’s more like, ‘We’re here to do a job. We’re like a machine. We just keep rolling’. That took time to adjust to; to understand that people are not there to be liked.”
She would spend two hours a day at the club, fewer than in England where “people are more concerned with being liked than potentially doing what you need to do to get to the top”. She would often sit in her apartment on her own. “You go home and get yourself into a horrible way of thinking.” Was she too hard on herself? “Definitely. It’s like you get dropped in the middle of the ocean.”
She returned home that Christmas, and within weeks was fluent in French. “I became more myself, freer on the pitch, more part of the team.”
The signing of Janice Cayman, from Montpellier, helped Christiansen find her feet. By the end she had made “friends I’ll have for life” and was “flying, holding my own against the world’s best” in training.
She recalls leaving the locker room on the final day before Christmas and staring in the mirror. “I knew I couldn’t live with myself if I left without being satisfied,” she says. “In myself, I was. That’s all I care about.”