Sport

Hannah Hampton has proved doctors wrong, is starring for Aston Villa and England, and showcased an incredible secret weapon against Spain


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Aston Villa goalkeeper Hannah Hampton loves proving people wrong. It’s what she’s being doing throughout her life.

If doctors and medical professionals had their way, the Villans’ number one wouldn’t be playing sport full stop, let alone be a shot-stopper.

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Hampton is an irrepressible for in the WSL right now

Hampton was born with a squint and underwent numerous surgeries to try and correct her eyes.

On top of that, she also has no depth perception and her family were told by doctors after she underwent surgery that playing any form of sport was completely off the table when she was growing up. 

But the England international wasn’t prepared to take no for an answer. If anything, that news made her even more determined to become a professional footballer and Hampton is now one of the rising stars in the Women’s Super League. 

The 21-year-old has been superb for Aston Villa this season, with her excellent distribution and strong reflexes making her a perfect example of a modern day goalkeeper. 

She is currently riding the crest of the wave having made her England debut against Spain – the country where she spent most of her childhood – last month and Hampton now wants to prove that, no matter what people say, anything is possible.

Speaking exclusively to talkSPORT, Hampton said: “My parents obviously knew straight away [that I had a squint]. I was told that I had operations when I was younger. I knew I had the operations but I didn’t know anything about the depth perception probably until when I came back to England from Spain so probably about 10 or 11.


Hampton got her hands on the Arnold Clark Cup with England earlier this year

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Hampton got her hands on the Arnold Clark Cup with England earlier this year

Hampton won the Player of the Match award against Spain

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Hampton won the Player of the Match award against Spain

“When I got told that and I understood what it meant I was like: ‘This makes so much sense.’ I couldn’t pour a glass of water without missing the glass if I didn’t hold the glass. If I was tired and I wanted to point at something or pick something up, I would miss the object. I was thinking: ‘Why am I doing this?’ 

“My parents were told that I wouldn’t be able to play sport pretty much straight away when I had the operations and they found out I had no depth perception. I couldn’t be a sports player, I couldn’t be a pilot, I couldn’t be a surgeon and I couldn’t be something else and my parents were just like: ‘No, she’s going to do what she wants,’ so never told me.

“I don’t think it’s held me back in any way. I just took it in my stride and wanted to prove people wrong.”

Hampton moved with her parents to Spain when she was five and it didn’t take long before she was scouted by Villarreal, where she initially played as a striker.  

It was only when she returned to the UK with Stoke City that she spontaneously decided to go in goal for the first time after an injury to the team’s number one in the warm-up. 

Hampton is keeping out the likes of Arsenal superstar Vivianne Miedema

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Hampton is keeping out the likes of Arsenal superstar Vivianne Miedema

She certainly chose the right game to try the position out, impressing so much in front of an England scout that she decided to remain in goal permanently and Hampton revealed that she was something of a secret weapon when making her international debut against Spain in the Arnold Clark Cup. 

“I’m fluent in Spanish so I could understand everything that they were saying,” she laughs.

“[I was] letting people know if they were going on the inside or outside or coming short or going over. It was quite funny I was able to translate all of that.

“Walking out and seeing all the fans cheering was incredible. Singing the national anthem to represent your country is not something many people get to experience and I’m truly grateful for that. I don’t think I took that smile off my face during the national anthem and I had tears in my eyes at one point. That was a huge honour.

Hampton has thanked Ward for improving her at Villa

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Hampton has thanked Ward for improving her at Villa

“Of all the countries I could have made my debut against, for me to have it against Spain definitely meant a lot. To have the trust to play me in a game like that against a top nation, I can’t thank Sarina [Wiegman] enough and all the staff. 

“I didn’t tell anyone I was starting! I didn’t know whether to say something or not but I then thought the more people that know, the more stress that I would put on myself so I just said nothing. My parents and everyone else found out through the line-up. 

“My phone was going mental afterwards with them being like: ‘How come you didn’t tell us?’ or: ‘Why didn’t you want us to come?’ and I was like: ‘Well, I didn’t want to be stressed out!’ Luckily, my parents were able to come to the game and watch it, which was really nice.”

Hampton, though, is not resting on her laurels with England’s number one spot still firmly up for grabs ahead of this summer’s European Championship on home turf. 

Hampton could be England’s No.1 at the European Championship

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Hampton could be England’s No.1 at the European Championship

On current form, Hampton will certainly give Lionesses boss Sarina Wiegman a selection headache and she credits Aston Villa manager Carla Ward for helping to turn her career around. 

“Wardy has been so good for me at Birmingham and now at Villa. When she came in at Birmingham, I was definitely falling out of love with football and I didn’t want to continue,” she finished. 

“I couldn’t really see a future and I couldn’t really picture where I could get to. I thought that was it and I didn’t think I was really good enough to do anything. Wardy came in and completely changed that around for me and helped me out a huge amount.

“For me to go on and make that debut and have Wardy watch it and be on the phone to her after, it was quite nice that I was able to do that.”

You can listen to Women’s Football Weekly on talkSPORT 2 every Monday at 7pm.

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