Wearsider Beth Hepple swapped the North East for Los Angeles as she jetted off across the Atlantic to represent England Under-20s in the NTC Invitational Tournament.
And it proved to be a successful tournament, with Durham Women star Hepple getting some valuable game time as the Young Lionesses won the tournament.
It’s always an honour to be recognised at your age group by your country.
The midfielder was called up to Mo Marley’s squad after impressing domestically with the Wildcats in the FA WSL2.
She has netted 15 times in all competitions this season - more than any other player in the WSL.
Hepple, who currently combines playing with studying at Sunderland University, admitted it was a fantastic trip. “It was a great experience,” she said.
“I didn’t expect it and to get to go to Los Angeles was amazing.”
This isn’t the first time Hepple has been recognised by the England set-up, with the midfielder having featured regularly in Under-19 and Under-20 training camps over the past year.
But she confessed that the trip to Los Angeles was a different learning curve as she looks to further improve her game.
“It’s always an honour to be recognised at your age group by your country,” Hepple added.
“It gives me an opportunity to work with some really talented players. It was great to play with some players who have been around that level for a long time. It’s a lot quicker, so it was a really good experience.”
The Young Lionesses secured the tournament after victories over Brazil and USA and a draw with Korea Republic.
“That’s what we set out to do so to win the tournament was fantastic,” said Hepple, before she offered advice to the next generation of potential England footballers in the North East.
“You’ve got to work hard and sacrifice - if you do those two things you’ve always got a chance.”
Durham end their WSL2 campaign on Sunday when they take on Millwall at New Ferens Park (2pm).
It is part of a ‘Super Sunday’ offer where fans can buy tickets for that game AND Sunderland’s final WSL1 game of the season - against Birmingham City Ladies at Eppleton CW (6pm) - for just £6.
The dual tickets can be bought on the turnstiles at New Ferens Park on Sunday.
Durham could finish the WSL2 season third if they win on Sunday and Everton, who are a point above them, fail to win at London Bees.
Sunderland are seventh in WSL1 but will drop to second bottom if they fail to match or better Reading’s result at home to pointless Doncaster, who have been relegated.