My Best: Helen Ward

By: Shea Duffy

The Watford Ladies captain talks through her best players, matches and more in a quick-fire interview...

Best player you have played with?

“I think I would have to go with Kim Little when I was at Arsenal. She was only young then but already running games at the highest level. I’m going to take some credit, though, as my job was basically to make runs to make room for her to get on the ball, and I think I did that really well!”

Best player you have played against?

“Kelly Smith as an all-rounder, but in terms of a direct opponent – a defender – I would say Wendie Renard of France. Absolute powerhouse. Tall, strong and so quick. I didn’t get a sniff over two games I played against her.”

Best player you have seen live?

“In men’s football, Bale or Cristiano Ronaldo, I think. I have seen more of Bale as I have been to a few Wales games and I only saw Ronaldo early on in his United career so Bale just edges it. Eden Hazard isn’t bad, either.”

Best captain you’ve played under?

“That’s quite a tough one. I think I’d actually say Sophie Ingle, the Wales captain. She took the armband at a very young age (23) but she has grown into the role brilliantly. She isn’t a shouter but you know she has your back on and off the pitch and is someone you can trust to do right by her team mates as well as her manager. She is exceptionally talented, as well, and just takes it all in her stride.”

Best character in the dressing room?

“Another tough question. I’ve played with some big characters – Rachel Yankey, Jayne Ludlow, Sally Wade, Tash Harding, Lois Roche, Emma Beckett – all of them would be up there for their own weird and wonderful reasons!”

Best coach you've worked under?

“Another one which I can’t just give one answer for. Sian Williams took Watford to unprecedented levels in her time here, Matt Beard is a great man manager, Jarmo Matekainnen always got the best out of me for Wales so those three to start!”

Best friend in football?

“I can’t answer any question with one answer! Sally Wade, Marie Hourihan, Rhiannon Roberts, Tash Harding, Rachel Rowe, Jo Price – they’re all up there.”

Best atmosphere you've been involved in?

“The most intense atmosphere would have been France away about six years ago, but the best was our home World Cup qualifier in Newport against England. We packed the place out and were on the brink of history after an unbelievable campaign that saw us go undefeated and without conceding a goal for the first seven games of the group. Unfortunately, our dream ended that night, the eighth and final game, but the support from the crowd was unreal and meant so much to all of us out on that pitch.”

Best game you've watched?

“Wales 3-1 Belgium, Euro 2016. Wow! Even at 1-0 down. Wales were sensational against the favourites for the whole competition. When that third goal went in I went nuts! I’m sure there are other games that stand out but they didn’t involve either of my teams (Watford or Wales) so I wasn’t emotionally attached. I would have said Watford v Wolves in the FA Cup semi-final last season but I wasn’t able to watch it live as I was away on international duty. The Liverpool game this season wasn’t bad, either – that’s probably the best one I’ve seen live. Or, the 3-0 win over Leeds in 2006 in the Playoff final. Too many to choose from!”

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