OLYMPIC heroine Steph Houghton has capped a tremendous year by being nominated for the FA’s Women’s Player of 2012 award.
The South Hetton 24-year-old became a household name during the summer when she scored in each of Team GB’s first three matches, memorably netting the winner against Brazil at Wembley.
Stephmania gripped the County Durham village throughout the Games, culminating in a surprise party to welcome her home after the side were ultimately knocked out by Canada.
Now Steph, who plays for Arsenal, is hoping that support can help her land the FA honour.
“My mates are already trying to get everyone to vote for me,” she told the Echo. “It’s a privilege to be nominated.
“To be honest it’s been a great year for women’s football and every player has played a big part.
“Whoever wins it, I know 2012 has been an amazing year for me.”
South Hetton Councillor Robin Todd has no doubt the community will be backing Steph, and spoke of the “immense pride” felt in the village in her achievements.
He said: “The Olympics was one of these things that very rarely comes your way, it was very special.
“What she did, scoring all those goals, was phenomenal.
“To be honest, the main emphasis in the area is on cricket, so for her to champion women’s football was quite unique. It captured everyone’s imagination.
The legacy of it is hitherto, women’s football was not taken seriously and people like Steph have changed that and put it top of the agenda. That’s where it will stay.”
There is no time for Steph to rest on her laurels, though, as she prepares to build on the success of 2012 in the new year.
She said: “The focus now is on making sure I stay healthy.
“Internationally, we’ve got the European Championships in Sweden in the summer and for Arsenal it’s all about challenging for the top trophies, including the Champions’ League.”
The award ceremony will take place at England’s new football headquarters, St George’s Park in Staffordshire, on Sunday, February 3.
You can vote for Steph online by visiting www.thefa.com.