Jess Carter struggles to see herself as role model having grown up without them

Since bursting on to the scene as a teenager Jess Carter has made herself a role model for aspiring young footballers.

Carter, 24, helped Chelsea to a domestic treble last season, and calls for her to get more regular time with England were heard by Sarina Wiegman last month as she featured in all three games as the Lionesses won the Arnold Clark Cup.

As a black, gay woman, Carter breaks down boundaries, but cannot think of herself in that way.

“I think for so many of us, it’s just being our own selves and doing what we want to do and what we love, being who we are,” Carter told the PA news agency. “I can only speak for myself but I never really see myself as a role model.

“I just see myself as being me and just trying to be the best version of myself that I can be.”

When Carter, who was 13 when the Women’s Super League launched, was growing up role models were in short supply.

“It’s not something I’ve ever had so it’s not something I would see myself as,” she added. “For a lot of boys growing up they obviously have these role models and then when they get there they realize how important being a role model can be.

“I think more and more now as young footballers get older they’ll realize the women’s game is going that way and that now we are becoming role models and a lot of kids are looking up to us…

“I don’t think it often sinks in until I get a message from a fan or see a fan and they are super-excited. With the little kids I don’t really understand why they’re so excited because you’re just playing football.

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“But in those moments you realize they look up to you so those moments are special. But I would never see myself as a role model as such. I’m just there doing the best that I can do.”

Chelsea’s Jess Carter (Richard Sellers/PA)

(PA Archive)

Carter took up the game around the age of five, and was lucky to have Warwick Juniors, founded by Dean Brandrick, down the road. From there, she was snapped up by Birmingham and famously made her debut playing in the Champions League as a 16-year-old.

But even then, Carter said she needed her move to Chelsea in 2018 to see herself as a professional.

“I played at Birmingham but it wasn’t full-time to start with – though I was at Birmingham and achieved many things there, I didn’t really take it seriously enough,” she said.

“For me it was always about having a laugh. Although it was something I loved doing I never really thought I would be able to do it as a job and as a profession until I came to Chelsea. Then I realized I had to do more.”

Carter was in a relationship with team-mate Ann Katrin-Berger at Birmingham. A year after her own move de ella, the German goalkeeper, now 31, also signed for Chelsea.

Ann Katrin-Berger, left, and Carter (John Walton/PA)

(PA Wire)

“When we go to the football we’re not in a relationship, we’re team-mates and we’re going to be the best team-mates we can be,” Carter said. “It doesn’t affect us and I haven’t been told that it affects the rest of the team either.

“I think it’s just a lot more acceptable in the women’s game. That’s my personal opinion. Whether it be supporters or players or staff, there’s a lot more acceptance for people to be who they want to be without that criticism.”

Chelsea’s domestic dominance was ended by Manchester City on Saturday as they won the Continental Cup final 3-1, but there are still big goals ahead for Carter as they defend the league and FA Cup titles.

“For me it’s to continue trying to make sure I’m one of the first names on the team sheet for Emma (Hayes) and winning those trophies,” she said.

“I would love to be going to the Euros with England in the summer. I’m trying to break into the team. I’ve had a few caps under Sarina and just want to keep that going.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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