After falling in love with football the day she first kicked a ball, Lucy Attwood once dreamed of playing for Wales.
Now the Pontypool-product has been capped at U15 and U17 level and was the hero as Wales U15 made history in 2017 with their first ever Bob Docherty Cup win.
But more importantly, she’s inspiring the next generation of footballers in her hometown and beyond.
Her former primary school has seen football soar in 2017, with scores of girls joining in weekly sessions, and the delighted PE teacher puts it largely down to Lucy.
Melissa Preston-Watkins, of George Street Primary in Pontypool, first spotted Lucy kicking a ball on the yard. Seven years later she’s won caps at U15 and U17 level, scoring vital goals at both age grades.
Her thrilled former teacher said: “I’ve watched Lucy progress and I’m very proud of what she’s achieved.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you’re not good enough.
There was a time I didn’t think I was good enough but the support of teachers, friends and family helped me a lot.
“Her success has inspired so many more girls to play football in our school and it gives them higher aspirations.
“This year we started our first ever girls-only after-school football club and during the summer term, we had 26 girls playing football every week.
“They’ve had lots of fun and developed their skills, with many joining clubs and playing representative football.
“By the time these girls leave us, we hope some of them will be outstanding players, like Lucy.”
Her equally proud Wales U15 coaches Matt Clement and Kat Lovett, are equally full of praise for Lucy, who is a product of FAW Gold Accredited Club Abergavenny Rhinos.
Kat said: “I’m very pleased Lucy is inspiring so many young girls to play football in her school. I hope she continues to challenge herself and remembers why she started to play football… because she fell in love with it the day that she first kicked a ball.”
Matt added: “Lucy is a truly amazing role model because she always wants to improve and seeks out her coaches showing her true ambition to reach her full potential.”
Cool-headed Lucy scored three vital penalties during the victorious Bob Docherty campaign before bagging a great goal in the thrilling final win against Northern Ireland.
But she remains down-to-earth, offering some inspiring words to the enthusiastic female footballers during a visit to her former primary school.
She said: “I told them to work hard, keep trying their best and make sure they enjoy playing football.
Lucy is a truly amazing role model because she always wants to improve and seeks out her coaches, showing her true ambition to reach her full potential.
“Also, don’t ever let anyone tell you that you’re not good enough.
“There was a time that I didn’t think I was good enough but the support of teachers, friends and family helped me a lot.
“To play for Wales takes a lot of hours on the training field but it’s worth every minute.”
Now Lucy has graduated to the Wales U17s and is a member of the Wales Performance Squad, coached Women’s National Teams Manager Jayne Ludlow at weekly sessions at the University of South Wales.
She scored on her debut against Northern Ireland and has ambitions to play for the senior team and inspire more young girls to follow in her footsteps.
She said: “I remember watching other girls playing football in school and that inspired me. I have so many happy memories of playing football in school and hopefully these girls will get some too.
“Now I’m lucky enough to have Jayne Ludlow coaching me. She inspires me on to improve.
“I really want to play for the senior team. I know it takes a lot of hard work but I’m willing to do it.”
And the current crop of female footballers at George Street all agree, they want to be like Lucy.
Katie James and Sophie Morgan have both now moved up to West Monmouthshire School, where Lucy also attended, and are hoping to follow in her footsteps by impressing there.
Katie said: “She’s an amazing inspiration.
Sophie added: “I really want to be like here one day.”