This weekend, Tottenham Hotspur Women will play their first-ever game in the club’s new stadium. But this isn’t any old match; in front of thousands of fans, they will take on North London rivals Arsenal. It’s set to be a historic occasion, and ahead of the game we caught up with several of the Spurs players, starting with keeper, Chloe Morgan.

The sheer grandeur of the new Tottenham Hotspur stadium is something that Chloe Morgan must be only too aware of as we sit down to talk to her ahead of this Sunday’s North London derby, in which she will be looking to shut out the likes of Danielle Van De Donk and Vivianne Miedema in front of thousands of fans. No easy task. But if she has any nerves, she doesn’t show them as we talk to her about her journey in the game, how she used to juggle being a qualified lawyer with her footballing career, and also what the match on Sunday means to the women’s game.

First off Chloe, can you tell me a little about your journey from where you started and what that looked like in comparison to where you are now?

I started playing football when I was about six or seven years old, just around the streets with one of my best mates. From then I went to clubs like Leyton Orient and then played football at Uni for a little bit. I then joined Spurs when I was about 21 or 22 and I was with them for a year or two. Then I went to Arsenal for a year before coming back to Spurs. I’ve been there for about six years now. I feel like part of the furniture almost! It’s been quite a journey…

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A lot of highs and a lot of lows?

Yeah, I think I joined the club at the right time really, because it just seems to have escalated and gone from strength to strength. So from when I started six years ago, we were playing on much smaller pitches and we’d maybe get one man and his dog coming along to watch the games, but now it just seems to have escalated in this great way and we’ve gone on to win championships and trophies and cups and things like that. Now, sitting here at WSL level, it’s just something that a few of us thought would never happen. It’s been an absolute dream come true. 

Are there moments that you think back to where you thought that the opportunity to play at a stadium like this wasn’t even on the radar?

Massively. I think when we first started, literally we just had two people come to watch the game and then going from that to playing at Stamford Bridge, playing at the Olympic Stadium, it’s just unbelievable for some of us to appreciate that we’ve come this far. It was just outside the realm of possibility even a few years ago and I think that’s a credit to the girls pushing to get us here. It’s fantastic.

Would you say you’ve had to make a lot of sacrifices to get here?

We’ve been at part-time level for quite a long time. We’ve obviously had careers running alongside that, which has been quite difficult to manage, doing both at the same time. Trying to make sure that you’re doing a good job on a nine to five basis and then coming to the training ground and also putting in a good shift there. We’ve had headteachers, trainee doctors, we’ve got managers, all sorts juggling their professional careers and then doing football. 

It does take up a lot of time and you do come away from some training sessions, especially last year, feeling very tired, very drained. But because we were battling for promotion last year, it was just a case of putting everything to one side. Looking at the backend of the season with everybody thinking that promotion was within our sights, it was just a case of battling through, shutting up and getting on with it. 

We’d maybe get one man and his dog coming along to watch the games, but now it just seems to have escalated in this great way"
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Have you had to juggle the work side of things with your footballing career?

It’s been a bit of a weird journey, because I didn’t really anticipate that I’d ever really be playing professionally. So my career goal from quite a young age was always to be a lawyer. That was something that I strived towards for a very long time. Going to uni, that was a big pinnacle when I finally made it as a qualified lawyer. I was thinking I’ve done it. This is it. And football just sort of happened to be running alongside that and getting to the stage where it was becoming a lot more professional as well, so it was a case of what do I do now, what’s the situation? 

So this year I’ve taken a sabbatical to just focus on football, because I couldn’t do both careers at the same time. But I’ve been a lawyer now for four or five years, and I just felt like now was the time to make the most of it and do professional football for however long it lasts for and then drop back into law as and when.

Wow. That’s amazing, because it’s not easy qualifying as a lawyer…

I think I’ve just been quite lucky. I think it’s been a case of right place, right time. The firms that I’ve worked at have always been really really flexible and understanding that football’s been a big passion of mine, so they’ve always allowed me to have days off or make up work at another time and things like that. Sometimes it has been very difficult, with the cases and clients that you have, you have to be there. But nine times out of 10 I manage to work flexibly around that. Plus it’s kind of a good promo thing for them really. Here’s someone who can work flexibly and do this other career alongside. I think when we stepped up to professional level, the amount of training and everything on a match day, it just couldn’t work. But I’m quite happy to just leave one and focus on the other, because it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to focus on just one career.

The women’s game is entering a new chapter right now. Do you want to have an impact that goes beyond what happens on the pitch and that helps it grow?

Definitely. I’ve considered careers in and around football and developing football and women’s football in particular. It just seems we’ve had this massive wave that’s come off the back of the World Cup and even the World Cup previously and the Euros. There just seems to be this grassroots women’s football that seems to be coming up now, which is just fantastic. 

So there is a part of me that thinks that I’d like to use some of the legal skills that I’ve developed and also my knowledge now of playing professionally and see what I can do to progress things even further, especially from a player welfare perspective and things like that, because I came into professional level quite naively really, thinking it would just be really good fun, playing football and doing what I do every day, but there is a background where it is quite mentally and psychologically challenging sometimes. You’re constantly in a situation where your performance is analysed, the journeys and the stress that it takes on your body, it’s quite a lot. So I would quite like to do something in player welfare, player liaison, developing women’s grassroots football. All things I’m considering.

I didn’t really anticipate that I’d ever really be playing professionally, so my career goal from quite a young age was always to be a lawyer"
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What will it feel like to step out here and have that experience? You guys have played in big stadiums already, but this will be a different experience, right?

Massively. This has been the dream of a fair few of us for quite a long time. Even when it was first broached to us last year that there was the potential to play at the stadium this year, I think a lot of just felt that that was mind-blowing. We never in a billion years thought we’d be doing this. We’re so grateful that we’ve been allowed this opportunity, but a part of us feels like we really deserve it as well. We’ve worked very hard behind the scenes, when we’ve had less followers, a very small fanbase, and now building up to this sort of game, playing in front of loads of fans, whether it’s their first time or supporters who have been with us since day one, it’s a massive opportunity.

Just that feeling of being in the tunnel and walking out knowing that it’s our game and we need to own it; that we deserve the right to be on that pitch. It’s just going to be amazing. 

There’s no feeling with the fans of thinking they weren’t there before, but now they are? You just want to make it a big and exciting an experience as possible?

Oh yeah, definitely. I think there will be a fair few fans that come along and it might very well be the first time they’ve seen us play. Obviously preparations are well underway to make sure that we put in an absolute shift and make sure that those fans keep coming back, because we don’t care if it’s your first time or if you’ve been to see us a hundred thousand times before. We just appreciate the support. All of us do. 

We’re so grateful that we’ve been allowed this opportunity, but a part of us feels like we really deserve it as well"
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Tottenham Hotspur Women v Arsenal Women kicks off at 3pm on Sunday 17 November.