Six-year-old aspiring footballer tells Lioness ‘I want one of these medals’

A six-year-old football fan, who plays up to six times a week, used a meeting with her football hero to declare her intentions of winning a medal with England one day.

Harper Mills, from Birmingham, travelled to Wembley Stadium with her mother on Sunday to see England beat Germany with a 2-1 victory at the Euro 2022 final.

Harper Mills, 6, met one of her hero's - Aston Villa women goalkeeper Hannah Hampton, who was on the substitutes’ bench for the dramatic final match. (Lou Mills/PA)
Harper Mills, 6, met one of her hero’s – Aston Villa women goalkeeper Hannah Hampton, who was on the substitutes’ bench for the dramatic final match. (Lou Mills/PA)

On Wednesday, the young footballer met one of her heroes – Aston Villa women goalkeeper Hannah Hampton, who was on the substitutes’ bench for the dramatic final match – and even got to wear the WSL goalie’s winners’ medal.

Her mother Lou Mills told the PA news agency: “We have never forced Harper to play football, she just loves it.

“Hannah recognised (Harper) because she’s always at the Villa games and asked her how she was doing.

“Harper said ‘I really want one of these medals’ and Hannah told her: ‘just keep doing what you’re doing’.

“It was just amazing.”

Harper Mills, 6, from Birmingham, at the Euro 2022 final at Wembley Stadium.
Harper Millsat the Euro 2022 final at Wembley Stadium (Lou Mills/PA)

Harper supports Aston Villa Women and travels to all their matches with her parents, who are also big football fans.

She has been a season ticket holder for the last two years for the Aston Villa men’s games and the women’s team who she “adores”.

Ms Mills said: “All the other kids will ask to put Nickelodeon on but Harper just wants to watch Sky Sports News.

“We follow Aston Villa women around the country and if there is a match that we can’t make she will go: ‘Please Mum, please I’ll do anything.’

“Her dream at the moment is to play for Aston Villa, that’s all she ever talks about and she absolutely adores the Aston Villa women.

“At the moment, that is what she is aiming for, but she can’t until she’s eight – then hopefully they will sign her.”

Harper Mills, 6, with Maz Pacheco, who plays as a defender for FA WSL club Aston Villa.
One of Harper’s other football inspirations is Maz Pacheco (Lou Mills/PA)

Another one of Harper’s other football inspirations is Maz Pacheco, who plays as a defender for FA WSL club Aston Villa, and coaches Harper every week.

Harper trains around six days a week and plays for a girls only team on Saturdays, while on Sundays she plays in a mixed team as the only girl.

Connor Mooney, 27, who coaches Harper as part of the football programme TNG, which stands for “the next generation”, said the young player is an inspiration.

Mr Mooney told PA: “Harper always comes to training with a huge smile on her face.

“Over the last year since working with her she’s just been absolutely amazing, she honestly loves the sport so much.”

Harper Mills with her coach Connor Mooney at training.
Harper Mills with her coach Connor Mooney at training (Lou Mills/PA)

Despite her daughter’s love of football, Ms Mills admitted that not everyone Harper meets has been supportive of her dreams.

She said: “She’s had it before when we’ve gone to the park or something and people have made comments to Harper like: ‘you can’t play football, you’re a girl.’

“Literally half the clothes in her wardrobe is football kits and if I were to get a dress out, she would refuse to wear it.

“When Harper goes to school she plays football, but none of her girl friends will play with her, she has to play with the boys.

“She plays for a mixed team on a Sunday, but she’s actually the only girl in it.”

However, both Ms Mills and Mr Mooney are hopeful that the 2022 Euros will be a turning point and encourage other young girls to get involved in football.

“I think a lot of girls that were playing football have stayed within the game because of it and I honestly believe that it’s going the right direction,” Mr Mooney added.