From the highest level of English football, to the most successful team in the world and back again. Izzy Christiansen delves into the details from her time with Olympique Lyonnais and the transition to her return to the Women's Super League.
The midfielder has scooped some of the biggest honours during her career so far. In the one short year she spent with Lyon, Christiansen participated in their success across four different competitions that term. The French giants won the D1 title, the Champions League, the Coupe de France and the Trophée des Championnes.
As well as her success in France, Christiansen boasts a decorated career in terms of silverware during her time with Manchester City and she contributed to England's SheBelieves Cup glory in 2019. Now, the Lioness is back on home soil and is looking to drive new club Everton to never-before-seen heights.
The 29-year-old spoke to GiveMeSport Women about her confidence levels and whether becoming a regular starter under Willie Kirk has boosted her self-belief.
“I’m confident whichever club I’m at,” Christiansen said. “I think that’s the one thing as a player that you have control over. How you feel and how you turn up to training every day is a choice and that’s the difference between the good and the best.
“I think here [at Everton] I’ve really flourished under the consistency, the attention to detail and the training plan. I’ve had a lot of impact during games – I’ve assisted a lot, I’ve scored a lot. These are all parts of my game that I would pride myself in, as it’s all about remaining fit and healthy and being able to perform whilst being in a good headspace.”
Indeed, Everton are enjoying a strong WSL season thanks to contributions from Christiansen in midfield and other influential players including Valerie Gauvin and Simone Magill. The Toffees are chasing down a top four finish at the end of the campaign, with just seven points currently separating them and Arsenal.
Christiansen is determined to propel Everton into the spotlight and aid the transformation that is already underway on Merseyside. Just two seasons ago, they were struggling at the bottom of the table and now there's clear plans in place to establish the club as a real WSL heavyweight.
“I want to challenge for Champions League, I want to finish as high as we can in the table," the midfielder said. “The pandemic has presented a lot of challenges but when you strip it all down, we’re very lucky to be doing this [still playing]. Why just go through the motions? Empty the tank, be the best you can be every day and then reflect at the end of the season."
How does Lyon success differ to English competition?
D1 giants Lyon don't just rule the roost over in France, but they are untouchable in the Champions League too. The seven-time winners are currently vying for their sixth consecutive European title, having proven themselves time and time again to be one of, if not the best women's football team on the planet.
Christiansen enjoyed the experience of adding even more medals to her cabinet during her time with Lyon, but ultimately admitted that the French league "doesn’t really compare" to the quality and competitiveness of the WSL.
“There’s huge differences in so many ways,” she said. “I think the obvious is the general quality of the WSL. We’ve noticed this season more than ever that any team can take points off anyone but in the French league, it would be a catastrophe if a team at the bottom of the table took points off say Lyon or PSG."
Christiansen believes that England's top flight is "moving towards being the best league in the world" but is very aware of the fact that some changes need to be made before such a status can come to fruition.
“I still believe the WSL has huge strides to make. The quality of the pitches is something that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. In order to be able to deliver the best image of women’s football, games need to be played on good surfaces and I think a superb example of that was Bristol’s game against Reading at Ashton Gate. It’s a beautiful surface to play on and we saw a high quality match – goals, quality finishes. That’s what I call a good advert for women’s football.”
Personal goals always in sight
For any player, representing their country on the international is perhaps the biggest honour in their professional career. Christiansen has been capped 31 times for England and is hungry to continue her journey with the Lionesses ahead of an exciting new era under soon-to-be new manager Sarina Wiegman.
“Of course it is,” she said when asked if an England call-up was a major goal for this year. “I know what I’m capable of, I know how I can perform. I’ve been in dialogue with the new interim coaches at England and I’ve had really positive conversations with them.
"I know where I’m at and where I want to go, I know what the future holds. It’s now about remaining consistent and patient and focusing on what I can control. But until I hang up my boots I want to be wearing an England shirt.”News Now - Sport News