Chloe McCarron: 'All the sacrifices are worth it' - NI midfielder on 'dream' Birmingham City move

By Andy GrayBBC Sport NI
Chloe McCarron
Chloe McCarron has been a regular under Northern Ireland manager Kenny Shiels

"I was meant to be playing at home and now I'm up against some of the best players in the world, who've been to the Olympics and have won the World Cup."

From the streets of Coleraine to the Women's Super League, Chloe McCarron hopes her "crazy" move to Birmingham City can be an inspiration for others.

The Northern Ireland midfielder thought she would be starting the new season helping Linfield defend their Women's Premiership title. However, a whirlwind move to Birmingham changed everything.

"There has been so much happening, I haven't had time to sit and think about where I am," said the 22-year-old, whose first kick of a ball with her new team-mates was in a friendly against Blackburn Rovers.

"I think once the first Super League game is out of the way I will be able to sit back take it all in."

McCarron made a bit of history with her move, becoming the first women from Northern Ireland to move from the Women's Premiership directly to England's top flight.

Simone Magill previously joined Everton seven years ago after making the switch from Mid Ulster Ladies.

"It was a proud moment and it made all the sacrifices worth it, with all the training and hard work I've put it," said McCarron.

"I think a lot of players overlook our league in Northern Ireland. There are some really good talents, especially in the NI set-up.

"I hope some of the girls can see that it is possible. I was playing in the streets growing up and training with them a couple of weeks ago."

Quality at Birmingham 'is amazing'

McCarron admits she spoke to Northern Ireland team-mates Magill and Rachel Furness, who plays for Liverpool, about making the move to England.

"Anyone would grasp the chance to become a professional footballer, and it isn't too often that we can say we get to play football as our job," she added.

"The quality of the players over here is amazing. I'm only someone from NI so it is good to be in that type of environment.

"I'll have to lift my level to play against the top types of players, so over time that will make me a better player."

Linfield lift the Women's Premiership titile
McCarron played a key role as Linfield won their fourth Women's Premiership title in a row last season

She credits agent Brian Adair for helping her make the move to Birmingham after helping Linfield win their fourth successive title. with McCarron scoring the decisive goal as the Blues pipped Sion Swifts to the post on goal difference.

"Back then, if I knew I was moving, it would have meant a lot more," she admitted. "It was good to go out on a high note and win the league."

Birmingham City face Brighton and Hove Albion in their first game of the new season on Sunday and as the WSL goes from strength to strength, McCarron feels the Blues, who finished second from bottom in the curtailed 2019-20 campaign, have to "ignore everybody else".

"On a personal note I just want to work hard, get a starting position and play my best," she added.

"I knew I wouldn't just walk into a team coming over here, and the players who were already here will be thinking they have to raise their game to keep their place in the team.

"That can be only be good for us collectively. It will make everyone better and push each other on."

'We can qualify for Euros'

McCarron says the introduction of Kenny Shiels as Northern Ireland women's manager has created a newfound belief in the squad that they can qualify for the European Championships, which have been pushed back to 2022.

Northern Ireland sit fourth in Group C after four fixtures; however, Shiels side have faced Norway twice and Wales, rivals for second spot in the group, are yet to face the former European champions.

"He has set us up in a way that we can play football. We're not scared to get on the ball and express ourselves, when before we would have played a bit safer," said McCarron.

"Kenny believes in what we can do and I have learnt a lot from him. He has allowed me to excel as a player and get the move over here."

Ashley Hutton scores against Wales
Ashley Hutton's late equaliser against Wales in Euro 2021 qualifying could be decisive

The match away to the Faroe Islands on 18 September will be the NI's first outing in 10 months and is followed by a trip to Belarus on 27 October.

"We matched Wales and if we keep playing how we have in the previous games, then we know we can can beat them into that second spot," added McCarron.

"It's not about seeing where we end up, we want to qualify. Everyone has that belief."

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