top of page

Royal curtsies, lego sets and Carrow Road - Ten Minutes with Lauren Hemp

Manchester City and England forward Lauren Hemp chats all things football, friends and collecting that all important MBE


Thursday, 30 May 2024

We caught up with Manchester City and England forward Lauren Hemp at the Lionesses Camp ahead of their upcoming matches against France. Here is everything the superstar winger had to say...

You're not even 25 yet, but you are considered a big hitter for England given that you've won a Euros and now you're here and a key part of a team that's looking to get back in there again, and defend that title? 


“A few camps ago, I was known as one of the most capped players within the squad at that time. For me, that was a shock, then, and obviously now, I'm now five or six caps more down the line. It's nice to know that I'm sort of known as a more experienced player. And I like to look at those moments in the harder games where I'm thinking back to the experiences that I have and playing in European finals and things like that. Obviously, I can then help with all the younger players and get them up to speed and things like that. It's obviously nice to have that and I've had so many experiences that I can take on to the future and past 25.” 


You have more caps than captain Leah Williamson at the age of 23. How does that feel being almost a senior player and one of the youngest at the same time? 


“I didn’t know that to be honest! Obviously, it’s nice to have a lot of caps and a lot of experience under my belt. It doesn’t only help me at country but also going back to club as well, being a more experienced player there as well. I still feel very youthful, and I still feel like the kid playing in the playground and I try and carry that on through my England career and sort of still play the same. It’s really exciting, obviously, about what the next few years will hold and into the future and hopefully I’ve got many years ahead of me.” 


Do you feel like a leader in this England team as one of the more experienced players?  

“I still feel quite young myself to be honest but it's great to see so many young girls coming through. Obviously, we've got Aggie (Beever-Jones), Missy (Bo Kearns) and Jess (Naz) all making the step up to the first team and it's great to have them around. It brings a new energy amongst the group and it's great. I've got a lot of friends here. I guess as the years go on, I'll be more recognised as a leader and it's nice to have that, it's nice to be a role model to the younger girls. But I still feel like it's the first few years of me being in the England team even though I'm like five or six years into my journey.” 


Do you see your position a England in a position that fluctuates across the front line? 


“Sarina sees me in both the 9 and on the wing."

"You saw in Australia how we played more with two (strikers) with me and Less (Alessia Russo). I think having that versatility is very good and handy within this squad. Whether we’re changing formations, changing personnel, doing different jobs helps especially with my experience because, if she [Wiegman] needs me to play in the 9, I know what I’m doing there. If she needs me out on the wing, I know what I need to do there. It’s good having that depth there and quality in my game. I don’t really mind which place I’m playing. I love being on the pitch and doing my thing. I feel like I can bring different qualities in different places on the pitch.”  


How important is it to have that kind of competition (for places within the squad) particularly with England looking to get back into the Euros and deny Spain or who, alongside England, are the clear favourites to win the tournament?  


“It's great to have the competition. We've got a lot of healthy competition within the squad especially with the title race and things like that we've seen recently. But to be able to come together as a whole squad, we obviously put our England cap on and you see on the pitch how well we work with each other and that it doesn't affect anything, whatever team you play for. It's all good competition and I think that's so important. It just shows how far women's football has come. The depth we've got within this squad is incredible. You can turn to anyone, and they'll make a difference within the squad.” 


What are your thoughts on the challenge posed by France? How keen are you to lay down a marker and underline England’s status as Euros champs given that England lost the last match played against them?  


“I've played them once before, but this was quite a while back now, so I haven't played against them since being under Sarina. They obviously bring so many threats. They're an incredible side and we've got full respect for them, but I think the main focus this week is on coming back together and knowing our strengths and the things that we can do to capitalise against France. We know what we can bring, and we also know what they can, and we're going to put ourselves in the best position to be able to go on and beat them. They are going to be a tough opposition, and so are the rest of the teams in our group. We know it's not going to be easy, but we've got a lot of confidence within this group to go and take that first step to qualify for the Euros.” 

You’re playing France twice this camp which is obviously unusual in football. How do you think this is going to benefit the Lionesses? 


“It’s obviously weird playing a team four or five days after we have done, but I think it’s only going to help and benefit us. We’ll be able to see, in the first game, whether they play differently to how we’ve been looking at, so going into that Tuesday game we will already have 90 minutes under our belt against them. It should be nothing but positive to be able to see what we need to work on in that game going into the next one.” 


What do you think it’s going to be like taking the international games up north again after so many games down south? 


“Yeah, it’s exciting. I haven’t played at St. James’ Park before, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about that stadium and what it would be like to be sold out. I think there’s not many tickets left going, for that to be a sell-out, apparently the atmosphere is incredible, so it’s going to be a fantastic occasion and I can’t wait to go up there.” 


How nice is it going to be to go back to Norwich next camp?  


“It will be great; I’m really excited about that. As soon as they said the game was at Carrow Road, I was the most excited which is obvious.

"I feel like one of the stands will be filled with most of my family to be honest! I know that’s a sell-out as well so I’m really looking forward to going back there. “ 


How do you reflect on the end of the season?

“For City, we had a great season I thought. We were unfortunate to not quite do it (win the title). We still had that belief going into the final game and we took it right to the end but credit to Chelsea they went out and had a fantastic performance against Man United. We obviously wanted to win the league and we were so disappointed, you could see so many tears from people because when you work so hard for something over the season, to come so close and yet so far is such a shame.

"But it makes us more hungry and more eager to go on and do it next year and preferably not leave it until the last game. We're getting closer and closer, and I know City is on an upward trajectory and it's an exciting time to be part of the club. That's why I stayed and signed a new contract. I knew we were going to be successful and it's only a matter of time before we start winning trophies and picking up league titles. It's such a special group to be a part of and the togetherness within the squad is second to none. I feel like we can bounce back from things so quickly and, having had some time to reflect over the past couple of weeks, I've got nothing but pride when I reflect on the season.” 

Was it nice to get your City contract sorted before coming into the England camp? 

“Of course. I'm glad to have got it over the line now and done over a month ago. I wanted to do it before the end of the season. There was a lot of speculation about different things, and I wanted to make sure I had that out there and there weren't going to be any more rumours. I'm really happy that I did that now and very glad that I've chosen to say. Like I say, it's such a special group and I want to be part of that journey over the next couple of years. I love being at City, I love everyone there and the staff. It's a great place to be.”  

You talked about camaraderie with your Man City team-mates, obviously, quite a few of them are here and Chelsea players and Arsenal and others are here. One city team-mate Khiara Keating has made steady progress through this season and won her first WSL Golden Glove. How pleased are you for her to have done that. And what would you like hope to see from her, maybe further down the line in terms of England? 


“It's great for Khiara. She's a great kid and as a person her personality is something else. She's a great person to be around, a great character and it's so good to see her shining on the world stage. She's competing against so many top goalkeepers. You've got Mary (Earps) and Hannah (Hampton) only two of them that are here. It's great to have that and there's big competition within the England squad now for every position, not only the goalkeepers. It's exciting to see what the future holds for Khiara, and I know that she's going to have so many incredible years at City, which is also lucky for me as well that she's going to be there, it's exciting to see what the future holds for England as well not only at Man City.” 


The last game was filled with some tears of players leaving and now it’s been announced that Esme is leaving as well. Is it going to be a quieter place without them players around? 

 “She's my best mate and I've not known City without her so it's going to be so weird for her not to be there, but she deserves to play, and she deserves the best. I'm just excited to see what the future holds for Esme, and I hope to see her back in a City shirt. I'm basically going to lose my right arm at City so it's definitely going to be a quieter place without her but I'm looking forward to seeing her shining somewhere else.” 


How was that experience picking your MBE up? 


“It was amazing, very incredible feeling. I got told back at Christmas time. To finally be able to go and collect it, surrounded by all my family, was a very special moment.” 

Were you more nervous picking that up and having to do all the official royal things than actually playing for England? 


“It was very nerve wracking. I play football all the time, it’s my bread and butter, but I’ve never curtsied in my life! I practiced it about 100 times before I went and did it. You had to do it twice, so I got a second chance at perfecting it. To see Prince William, he’s a massive football fan so it made it much easier. It helped with my nerves.”  


Was he talking to you about football while you were there?  


“We weren’t talking tactics or anything! He was just asking about the season for both club and country, asked when my next camp was, asked about how many goals I’d scored this season which I couldn’t remember off the top of my head, especially as I was trying to remember to curtesy after I’d finished speaking to him. He was lovely and it was a nice short but sweet chat.” 


As a footballer you probably never think about those sorts of things growing up, I guess it’s something where you never thought you’d be in that situation? 


“It was a big surprise for me. Naturally as footballers you’d be thinking about the Ballon d’Or or the FIFA Best, not necessarily about getting an MBE. But it’s an incredible honour and I was so surprised and shocked when I received the letter. I felt pretty speechless to be honest because it’s such an incredible achievement. It’s not recognised just football wise, it’s worldwide and people are getting celebrated for so many different things and it’s an honour to be part of that.”  


Are there any Lego sets you’re planning on taking to France with you? 


“Not currently just because I had so much trouble bringing my globe and everything else back from Australia, so I’m a bit traumatised still from doing that. It’s still the whole getting it onto the plane, getting it off the plane, at the moment I’m just keeping my sets at home because it’s less stress on me travelling. She’ll (Esme Morgan) be thanking me.”

bottom of page