Cain and able: The story of Sheffield Ladies’ ‘Future Star’ Hannah Cain

Hannah Cain. TGS Photo
Hannah Cain. TGS Photo

Imagine breaking your leg four months before a World Cup. Imagine that pain, stress and uncertainty.

Well for Hannah Cain, 17, that situation became a reality last year.

Photo: Ben Webster

Photo: Ben Webster

But the Sheffield FC Ladies forward - who won Future Star at Sheffield’s Celebration of Sport last October - is made of stern stuff. She’s strong, determined and driven to the core.

Upon meeting her and her mother Lisa, who shares a brilliant little anecdote about Hannah as a toddler, you quickly realise this is not your average teenage girl.

“One night I went upstairs and my son Ben was watching My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Hannah was watching 101 Arsenal Goals,” Lisa said.

“I thought to myself there’s something wrong here! It should be the other way round surely.

TGS Photo

TGS Photo

“My mum took to me to ballet when I was little and I wasn’t interested,” said Hannah, from Doncaster.

“She asked me what I wanted to do and I said I wanted to play football.”

“She was only three at the time,” recalled Lisa. “I said ‘I’m not taking you to football Hannah’. But we ended up taking her when she was about four and a half to an all boys team [Scawthorpe Scorpions] - there was no girls teams - and in her first season she scored 56 goals. It’s been a long ten years since then! A lot of miles covered.”

That’s an understatement. Last year alone Hannah visited Florida and Belarus before proudly pulling on an England jersey at the FIFA Under 17s Women’s World Cup in Jordan. It was never in doubt.

Hannah Cain

Hannah Cain

“It was a mad year,” smiled Hannah, who also played for Wales at junior level before opting for England.

“I was in peak condition in Belarus for the European Championships - the best I’ve ever been - and then in the first game back for Sheffield I fractured my fibula.

“Because of where the fracture was, near my kneecap, it took 13 weeks for it to recover fully and I only had 16 weeks until the World Cup. So in those three weeks I obviously had to try and regain the fitness that I’d lost.

“It always makes you work harder if you’ve got something in your way,” she added. “I like to work hard and I like a challenge. I don’t like easy.

“I’ve trained two or three times a week since the age of six so that’s all I’ve ever known really - that hard work.”

Cain hopes to be in the Sheffield side who resume competitive action this weekend at Charlton Athletic in the SSE FA Women’s Cup, before facing hometown club Doncaster Rovers Belles in their Spring Series opener on February 12.

“Sheffield is a great club for developing young players,” said Hannah, a sports scholarship student at Hill House School.

“You don’t get many 17-year-olds playing at FAWSL standard and getting the same amount of game-time they’re giving me.

“We’ve got a strong team unit. We do a lot of stuff together away from football so when we get on the pitch it just works.

“We were underdogs in FAWSL2 last season and people didn’t expect us to finish that high up [fifth]. We’ve made our mark and shown people what we’re about.”

Cain, who models herself on Thierry Henry, has made her mark too. Her ambition is to turn professional and play for England at senior level.

She said: “A lot of people said to me ‘you’re a girl, you’ll never be a professional footballer’. As a little kid you think to yourself ‘are they right?’ But I just carried on doing what I was doing and here I am.

“Playing for England I’ve proven I can do it if I work hard - and that’s what I’ll carry on doing.”

Lisa added: “It’s her determination and drive that’s got her to where she is - and will beyond that. We’re very proud of her and what she has achieved.”