As one of the leading players of her generation, Marianne played nearly 100 times for her country and was part of the first ever England team to play at a FIFA Women’s World Cup in 1995.
Marieanne was destined to wear an England shirt from an early age, in fact her grandfather was convinced that she would one day play for her country; he even predicted it when she was just two years old.
“I don’t know where that came from or whether that’s just a family myth that everyone kind of pulls out every Christmas”, she says jokingly from her office at Southampton FC Women’s Staplewood Campus complex.
Her love of football definitely isn’t a myth. It started at age six when she went to go and watch Chelsea with her father and uncle – and she was absolutely transfixed.
She spent hours kicking the ball at a local park and putting pressure on her school to allow girls to play football. Eventually, a teacher allowed her and a few others to use a few benches in the sports hall for goals and she began to play regularly. She later joined a team in London and by the time she was aged 13 she was playing senior women’s football.
“It taught me so many life skills. I’m quite shy but football gave me the confidence to go into a room with older people – older, strong women – and hold my own.”
Marieanne and her teammates had to battle for everything, but what they did with limited resources was phenomenal. The modern women’s game is a far cry from the environment she began her career in. And she believes record-breaking attendances, viewing figures and the Lionesses’ Euro success have shown that the women’s game has “caught up to where it should be” – but she believes there’s no limit to what the next generation can achieve.
She balanced being an amateur with full-time work. When she needed to travel abroad for England duty, she would have to use up annual leave. But she has never seen these obstacles as a barrier.
“I don’t see challenges. I just see opportunities”, she says. “When I was playing, there was a lot of negativity about women in football – and I used that as a driver. Even with all the negativity I faced, I still believed that I could play for England and I still believed that my teammates around me were good enough.