Leah Williamson had been firmly targeting a place in the England squad for this summer’s Women’s World Cup since watching the 2015 edition and being left convinced they would win the next one.
The defender is part of a Lionesses squad aiming to improve in France on the third-placed finish achieved four years ago in Canada, their best World Cup performance to date.
Williamson, 22, said: “At the 2015 World Cup, when I was watching the Lionesses out there, they spoke about wanting to win it, but I’m not sure everybody was totally convinced, from having spoken to the players.
“Sitting at home, you didn’t know what was going to happen because we’d never got that far before.
“Ever since then, I’ve been like ‘I need to be in that next squad because they are going to win the next one’.”
Williamson says she is heading into the tournament, which begins on Friday, feeling lucky, with her inclusion in the squad for France among a number of long-held objectives she has seen fulfilled over the past 12 months.
She made her senior international debut almost exactly a year ago, coming off the bench as England beat Russia 3-1 in Moscow.
In the season that followed, a long-held dream was realised as Williamson helped her beloved Arsenal win the Women’s Super League, the first time they had claimed the trophy since 2012.
She said: “To get into this World Cup squad, to say ‘this is what I’m going to do’... I’ve been stressing myself out all year, putting a lot of pressure on myself.
“But the fact that sort of everything has worked in my favour so far, I literally can’t complain.
“The last couple of weeks have been some of the best of my life – winning the league with Arsenal and then getting called up for this. It is just the hugest honour.
“I’m very proud to be an Arsenal fan, they are the club that I love, so to do that in that shirt, to win the league, was unbelievable.
“It’s just something that I’ll never forget, to tick something like that off your list as such. It’s all I’ve ever dreamed about.
“I was quite unfortunate with injuries at start of my career at professional level so to finally get my (England) debut last year, it sort of hit home. It definitely wasn’t something I took for granted.”
England’s World Cup campaign starts on Sunday when Phil Neville’s side face Group D rivals Scotland in Nice.