Winterbourne Down keeper Sophie stars for Young Lionesses
A YOUNG goalkeeper from Winterbourne Down is back from international duty after helping England under-17s qualify for the next stage of a UEFA tournament.
Sophie Hillyerd, 16, kept two clean sheets as the Young Lionesses reached the competition's elite round with victories over hosts Bosnia & Herzegovina, Croatia and Belgium. The final qualification matches take place in the spring, with a place in the finals in Sweden at stake.
The 11-day camp in Bosnia was the latest overseas trip for Sophie since first being picked for England at the age of 14. She has also been to Switzerland, Belgium and Sweden.
The call-ups are reward for many years of hard work and training at the SGS Wise campus in Stoke Gifford, where Sophie is part of the Bristol City set-up.
She now features in the Bristol City under 21 squad, playing against the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester City in the FA Academy League. Sophie was also on the bench for a recent Bristol City first-team game.
Her football career started at the age of seven for Downend Flyers and then Frampton Rangers, where she was initially an outfield player until the goalie left and she decided to give it a go between the sticks.
Sophie, above, previously attended Bristol Cathedral Choir School, where she juggled training with doing her GCSEs.
She is now combining her football with a BTEC Extended National Diploma in Sport and Exercise Science at SGS.
Sophie said: “Walking out wearing the England badge and singing the national anthem makes me feel absolutely amazing.
“Every time I represent my country, I feel so proud and it proves that the hard work I put in on and off the football pitch, day in day out, pays off. Women's football is going places at the moment and it's great to be a part of it.”