Imagine scoring a goal on your first start for Everton in a Merseyside derby. Oh — and you’re only 17.
Elise Hughes doesn’t have to imagine it. She lived it!
Hughes got her first start Sunday in a cup game against Liverpool and scored the third goal for Everton, firmly sealing the win over the Reds.
The striker has been a Blue since she was 12 years old and graduated through the Club’s Regional Talent Centre.
Hughes described her elation to EvertonFC.com after the game:
“It was the best feeling I have ever had on a football pitch. To get my first senior goal for Everton, as a girlhood blue, it is just amazing.”
“I will easily remember that goal for the rest of my life.”
Finished 2018 with a Derby win shout out to @elise__hughes first of many starts at the club outstanding performance above and beyond your years topped with a goal ... you deserve it ⚽️ onto 2019... pic.twitter.com/mJk1TQRtXo— Gabby George (@gabsgeorge) December 16, 2018
Hughes appreciated that new manager Willie Kirk saw enough potential in her to give her a start in just his fourth game at Everton:
“Willie has put in a lot of trust in me. He has shown that by giving me a start in what was a massive game.”
The Wales international player stated that Kirk is instilling confidence and drive into the squad:
“With the new manager, it feels like if you are good enough, you are old enough. Both Willie and assistant Chris Roberts are here to improve the team and improve us as individuals. I’m really happy with where I am and the progress I have made.”
It should be interesting to see if Hughes will be getting more starts in 2019. She has scored as many goals as forwards Hannah Cain and Chloe Kelly, who have gotten more game time, so she certainly has made a case for herself.
So far, Everton has scored seven goals in 10 league matches and six goals in four cup matches. If Hughes can produce more goals in the second half of the season, it could help the team climb the table to be above Liverpool, who currently sit in 8th place while the Blues are in 9th.