Killamarsh Junior School proudly welcomed back ‘one of their own’ as England Women’s international Millie Bright returned to her roots ahead of the Lionesses’ friendly against Sweden at nearby Rotherham United on Sunday, November 11 (ko 13:30).
The Chelsea defender, a pupil at the Sheffield Road school from 2000-2004, received a rapturous reception from excited pupils during a school assembly.
Millie was reunited with former teachers Ange Davis and Jo Bakes, who still work at the South Yorkshire school.
But the biggest hug was reserved for mum Nicky, a teaching assistant at Killamarsh Junior having joined the school’s staff when Millie started attending 18 years ago.
Millie will be starring for the Lionesses just down the road at Rotherham United’s AESSEAL New York Stadium in only 19 days’ time in a friendly against Sweden as Phil Neville’s side step up their preparations for next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
The 25-year-old was quizzed about her progress from local team Killamarsh Dynamos to playing on the biggest stage of all during an entertaining Q&A with pupils in the morning assembly.
Moments later, Millie, capped 24 times by England, switched to the school’s playing field for a coaching session and kickabout with budding footballers.
“It’s important to give back to the teachers and school who have offered me so much support over the years and also the pupils, who follow my games on TV,” said Millie, who was born in Chesterfield.
“I’m hoping to see quite a few of them in the stands for the Sweden game. Rotherham’s pretty much classed as my home town so it’s going to be quite surreal playing there.
"Hopefully, we’ll get really big numbers coming out to support us, including my family and friends, and I’m really excited for it.
“It’s a vital game because everything we’re doing now is building up to the World Cup and making sure we’re performing. We want every game to be a win.”
Millie, who made her milestone 100th appearance for Chelsea last weekend, added: “It’s amazing coming back to my old school – I try to visit whenever I can – and I was given a really warm welcome in the assembly.
“I had fun during the kickabout with the pupils, who were the school’s regular footballers.
“When I was here, I used to play with the boys because not many girls played football but now there is a girls’ team which plays in tournaments. This is brilliant to see, as there’s so many more girls now wanting to play the game.”
Tickets to see Millie Bright and her Lionesses team-mates entertain Sweden at Rotherham United’s AESSEAL New York Stadium on Sunday, November 11 (ko 13:30) are £10 adults and £1 concessions and on sale at: www.thefa.com/tickets