Natasha Flint was playing for Blackburn Rovers and working as a lab technician a year ago – but now she is playing full-time at Championship leaders Leicester City, and topping the goalscoring charts after picking up December’s player of the month award.
To cap it off, she scored an 84th-minute winner against Crystal Palace on Thursday night to send her side into the Continental Cup semi-finals.
But it has not been an easy journey for Flint, a former Manchester City starlet, who dropped down to play for third-tier Preston North End when she was released at the age of 19 in 2015.
“This is the start of me getting back out there. I want to get back up to the top. I feel like it’s all paying off – all that hard work I used to do,” Flint told BBC Sport.
“I used to dwell and think on the past but I am here now at Leicester and this is the first step to getting where I want to be.”
‘I don’t take anything for granted’
Flint, now 24, signed for Leicester in the summer after three seasons at Blackburn Rovers, where she said she “found the love for the game again”.
She has now scored 11 goals in 12 league games and is preparing for Sunday’s match at title rivals Liverpool.
“I love Leicester. I enjoy everything – waking up going to training every single day. [Manager] Jonathan Morgan had spoken to me for years and tried to get me in,” said Flint.
“This was the perfect time to take his offer. Hopefully I can have a big future here. I am giving the coaches what they need and I am getting what I need from them. It’s all looking good but I don’t want to jinx myself!”
The coronavirus pandemic, which forced Flint to go on furlough, gave the forward an opportunity to step away from her job and train full-time for the first time in years.
“I was so busy. I used to work 6am-6pm most days then go straight to training. I didn’t get home until midnight. I would just keep doing the same every day.
“I was absolutely knackered and it was so hard to do. I feel for the people who are still doing that. I feel so lucky and I don’t take anything for granted with what I have.
“Our business stayed open for a bit during coronavirus but when I went on furlough, it was the best thing for me. I went out running and training every day. I lost weight and started eating well. I was able to get out on to the football pitch to train instead of working all day.”
The training has paid off and Flint’s form has helped propel Leicester to the top of the table. She hopes to return to the Women’s Super League with the club but another ambition is to play for England, who she has represented at youth level.
“I want to play for England and I hope now I can get recognised. I hope to get a chance but I’m not dwelling on it,” she said.
“I am just trying my best to do that – I’m doing everything I can fitness-wise, mentality-wise, eating right and just staying fit. Maybe one day.”
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