A day in the life of Steph Houghton

We caught up with the England women’s captain

We’ll give you one chance to guess the biggest female team sport in the UK. Yep, with nearly 3 million players, it’s, drum roll please… football! Confidence is something that looks great on everybody, and here at Boots we believe that everyone has the right to feel good, which is why we are proud to partner with women’s football for the next three years and inspire women and girls to get involved with the beautiful game. So who better to give us an insight into a typical day in the life of a professional footballer and to probe on all things confidence than England captain Steph Houghton.

A typical day for the Manchester City defender

6.30am If I’m in training, this is when I get up to drive to the training ground for 7.45am.

8am At the club, the first thing I do is a little workout, with stretches, lunges and exercises using glute bands.

8.30am I have breakfast with the team (usually eggs and salmon on toast), then, if I need physio, I might have a 30-minute slot.

10am We have a half-an-hour team meeting, led by our manager, Nick Cushing, to discuss tactics. This will link into the day’s training session.

10.30am We hit the training pitch for two hours, starting with a warm-up and some sort of passing drill, then possession and games, either small-sided or 11 vs 11.

12.30pm Lunch is usually some sort of protein, such as chicken or fish, with salad or vegetables and carbs – rice or potatoes.

2pm If we have more training in the afternoon, we’re back in the gym first for a weights session or workouts to help prevent injury, including bar squats, lunges and hamstring exercises. At the end of every period we do a core-activation workout (i.e. inner ab muscles) to help with strength and stability when we’re running around on the football pitch.

3.30-4pm I’ll finish about now, unless I have to stay behind for a couple of hours to fulfil responsibilities, such as doing an interview on camera. As captain, I have more media duties; I really enjoy it because I like trying to inspire people.

4.30pm I’ll arrive home and might put my feet up – sometimes it’s best just to do nothing! Or my husband Stephen [Darby, former Liverpool, Bradford and Bolton defender] and I will go to the shops for a coffee, or do some clothes shopping. I play at weekends and at the moment I only get Tuesdays off, but with free time in the afternoon, it all balances out.

6.30pm Stephen is a good cook, and we take it in turns to make dinner, which we usually eat at about 7pm. Generally, it’s the same kind of meal – protein, vegetables and carbs – but fajitas are my favourite, so I’ll try to squeeze them in somewhere during the week!

7.30pm We’ll watch a football match or series on TV.

10pm I like to go to bed at about this time, because I’m up quite early. I try to get about eight hours’ sleep. I think that’s enough to be able to train and play well.

Quick Q&A with Steph

Many young girls say they don’t play sport due to being self-conscious about their bodies. What’s your advice? 

"Try to block out what you think other people are thinking – because you genuinely don’t know. And in my experience, the great feeling of doing exercise in any form outweighs anything that anyone could potentially say to you."

What’s your take on the mistaken belief that you can’t be feminine and play football? 

"Ten or 15 years ago many of us faced that, in terms of hearing, ‘It’s a man’s sport, you shouldn’t be playing,’ or ‘You look manly’. Now though, people can see that we’re athletes, and that we train hard in order to be athletic and as fit as we can possibly be."

Do you think women’s football is being taken more seriously now? 

"Yes – you not only see female players doing what they love, but they’re also challenging perceptions every day. When I first started playing football, you’d never hear about it – you wouldn’t even know that England were playing! Whereas when we won the SheBelieves Cup this March, it was all over the news and everybody has been congratulating us."