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Steph Houghton=== Wikipedia entry ===
(2006/07 - 2019/20)
Stephanie Jayne Houghton (; born 23 April 1988) is an English footballer who both plays for and captains Manchester City and the England national team. At club level, Houghton started at Sunderland in her native North East England before moving on to Leeds United in 2007 then Arsenal Ladies in 2010. She broke into the Sunderland team as a striker before moving back into midfield and later into defence.
Since her debut in 2007, Houghton has played over 100 times for the England national team. She suffered serious injuries immediately before the 2007 World Cup and Euro 2009, but recovered to play in the 2011 World Cup and Euro 2013. She was made England captain in January 2014. At the 2012 London Olympics, Houghton scored three goals in Great Britain's four games, including winners against New Zealand and Brazil.
Houghton was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to football.
Houghton began her career playing for five years at Sunderland. She helped Sunderland to win promotion from the Northern Division in 2005–06 and then won the FA Young Player of the Year Award in 2006–07. After Sunderland were relegated that season, Houghton became a target for Arsenal and Everton. She eventually joined Leeds United Ladies. After helping Leeds win the 2010 FA Women's Premier League Cup, Houghton signed for Arsenal in August of that year.
On 5 December 2013, it was announced that Houghton had signed an agreement to leave Arsenal for new WSL side Manchester City on 1 January 2014. Houghton signed a two-year contract extension with Manchester City on 24 January 2020.
Houghton was involved with England at U16 schools, U19, U20, U21 and U23 level. She was called into the full squad for a match against Germany on 25 October 2006, when Katie Chapman withdrew with an illness. She was an unused substitute in the 5–1 defeat in Aalen. She made her debut in the next match, replacing Emily Westwood after 73 minutes of a 6–0 win over Russia in Milton Keynes on 8 March 2007. Her first start came three days later, in a 1–0 win over Scotland at Adams Park. She missed the 2007 World Cup with a broken leg and Euro 2009 with a damaged cruciate ligament.
In May 2009, Houghton was one of the first 17 female players to be given central contracts by The Football Association. She played in all three games at UEFA Women's Euro 2013 as England finished in last place; she described the result as "a massive disappointment personally and collectively as a squad." In January 2014 she was named the new captain for England's team under coach Mark Sampson, beginning on a 1–1 draw with Norway.
For the 2015 World Cup in Canada, Houghton was again named England's team captain. Houghton scored her first World Cup goal against Norway in the round of 16, and was chosen Player of the Match during the quarterfinals with Canada, which qualified England for their first semi-finals ever.
Houghton earned her 100th England Cap on 11 November 2018 against Sweden at New York Stadium in Rotherham, South Yorkshire. In May 2019 it was announced that Houghton had been selected for the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup in France. She scored a goal in the Round of 16 match against Cameroon.
Houghton was called up to the first Great Britain women's side for the 2012 Summer Olympics as a defender. She became the team's record goalscorer from the left–back position, scoring in all three group games to help Great Britain to win the group with a 100% record, as well as making important challenges to help ensure the side progressed without conceding a goal. Houghton was also named left back of the tournament due to her outstanding performance during the games.
In popular culture
In October 2014, Houghton was the first female player to appear on the cover of Shoot magazine.
Houghton is married to former Bolton Wanderers defender Stephen Darby. They married on 21 June 2018. On 18 September 2018, Darby announced his retirement from professional football at the age of 29 after being diagnosed with motor neuron disease.
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