Rising football star Ashleigh Plumptre is to develop her game Stateside after earning a million-dollar football scholarship at a top American university.
The 17-year-old, who started her career with Asfordby Amateurs Ladies and Girls FC, will jet over to Los Angeles next summer to begin a four-year degree at the University of Southern California (USC).
While studying pre-med - Ashleigh’s long-term aim is to become a doctor - she will represent the university in the Pacific 12 Conference against some of the best up-and-coming footballers in the country and line up alongside under 20s USA internationals.
She had offers from several coaches in the US and looked at renowned Ivy League universities Harvard and Princeton, but plumped for USC which has a stellar sporting record.
Its athletes have won a staggering 287 Olympic Games medals – more than any other university in the USA – and if ranked as a country, the USC would lie 12th in the all-time medals table.
“I’m so excited; I’ve wanted this for a long time,” she said.
“We play matches on Fridays then train on Saturdays and have another game on Sundays so it is quite intense.
“UCLA are our rivals in Los Angeles and they have recruited under 20 USA national team players and a Canadian World Cup player for next year.
“I talked to the UCLA assistant coach who came to watch one of my games and was interested, but it didn’t suit me as much.”
Before packing her bags and heading for the departure lounge, Ashleigh will be available for the first half of the next Women’s Super League season.
Despite being five months shy of her 18th birthday, 2016 will mark her third WSL campaign after Notts County Ladies offered her a place in their first team squad.
The highlights of another breakthrough season brought a dream trip to Wembley for the first Women’s FA Cup final to be played at the famous stadium.
She did not make it off the bench for the narrow defeat to Chelsea, but scored in the Continental Tyres Cup win over Yeovil in which she was named Player of the Match.
“Just to be at Wembley was amazing and to be part of the squad. We stayed over at a hotel quite close to Wembley the night before and I shared a room with Danielle Buet which was another good experience.”
The date of her flight across the Atlantic will depend on international commitments as the summer could yet see Ashleigh showcase her skills at the UEFA Women’s Under 19s European Championships.
Last summer she started all three games on the left wing for England at the UEFA Women’s Under 17s European Championships, scoring in their sole group win over hosts Iceland.
England also held eventual champions Spain to a draw, but lost their final group match to Germany.
Ashleigh made her bow for the national under 19s side in the 1-1 draw with Italy last November and hopes to keep her place in the squad for the upcoming home match with Norway next month.
“The under 19s is getting towards the end of youth age groups so I was against players who are doing really well,” she said. “But I felt I did okay and was on a par with them.”