How England Women’s star Nikita Parris banished the butterflies

England's Nikita Parris: Hails the 'four musketeers' after scoring her side's penalty.
England's Nikita Parris: Hails the 'four musketeers' after scoring her side's penalty.
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Nikita Parris admits she experienced a bout of “butterflies” for the first time ahead of her goal-scoring World Cup debut.

The forward put England ahead in the 14th minute of Sunday’s 2-1 Group D win over Scotland in Nice, confidently converting a penalty awarded following a VAR review.

Parris had said earlier in the week that while she was a player who did not feel pressure, it was impossible to know how she would feel when making her first appearance on the biggest stage of all.

When asked after the match how she had felt going into it, the 25-year-old, who is joining French powerhouses Lyon this summer having left Manchester City, said: “I didn’t have any expectation coming into the game.

“All I thought to myself was ‘it’s another grass pitch, 22 players, 11 of ours and 11 of theirs, and we’ve got to beat them’. That’s what I think when I go out on the pitch.

“But I’m not going to lie to you. I sat in the hotel room and said to Abbie (McManus), my room-mate, ‘I’ve got butterflies. Before lunch.’ She was like ‘just go to sleep and wake up’. So I went to sleep, woke up and I thought ‘oh, they’re gone’.

“It was the first time, I had experienced a moment like that before. But I just stuck to myself and said to myself ‘what two things can you bring to the game today?’ And that’s passion and drive, and all the rest came for me.”

On her thoughts just prior to taking the spot-kick, she said: “I just try to stay calm and composed. The atmosphere’s there to intimidate you, but I try to soak it in, because the more atmosphere I get in my body then the more passionate I am about putting the ball in the back of the net.”

As she celebrated, Parris held up four fingers, and she said: “The four was for me, Toni (Duggan), Mary Earps and Abbie – we’re four musketeers, constantly together. They’ve helped me through my journey and I appreciate them so much.”

England’s victory was the UK’s most watched women’s football game of all time, according to the BBC.

Sunday’s match attracted a peak of 6.1m watching on television and a 37.8 per cent share of the available audience.

England face Argentina in their second Group D match on Friday at 8pm.