Maya Le Tissier on her different pathway to the WSL, working under ‘legend’ Hope Powell and playing against the world’s best

Maya Le Tissier laughs at how, in a matter of weeks, she went from being coached by her father Darren in Guernsey to playing under former England manager Hope Powell, at the age of 16.

“It’s crazy to be honest!” she told Sky Sports. “No disrespect to my dad, I was playing boys’ football at St Martins AC, my local side, from four until 16. He coached me all the way through which was nice but then a month later, I was under Hope Powell and all of her support staff.”

Le Tissier is one of the brightest prospects in the WSL and is thriving under Powell at Brighton, who recognised the young defender’s talent straight away.

Now 19, Le Tissier made her senior debut aged 16 in the League Cup before being thrown straight into WSL action against Chelsea.

“I was in midfield against Ji (So-yun) the whole game!” she said, having scoring her second WSL goal in a 1-0 win against Aston Villa last weekend. “I’ll never forget it. To go up against one of the best midfielders in the world was crazy but it was a really good experience and something I’m really grateful to have had.”

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Maya Le Tissier scores to put Brighton ahead against Aston Villa in the WSL.

Le Tissier has taken a different path to the top but insists she wouldn’t change it. She would travel from Guernsey to England twice a month to try and prove herself in the junior game.

While the players she would be up against were all playing for academies, Le Tissier was playing boys’ football on the channel island, waiting for the right opportunity.

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“I usually played a year up with the same set of boys, who I’ve known all the way through,” she said. “They just saw me as another player, back home everyone knows everyone – they didn’t go light on me! When I came over here the physicality of the league wasn’t an issue because I was exposed to it back home.

“I needed to make sure I worked harder than anyone else to bridge the gap and get further along than players my age. It was great, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

“I had a great support network there from my mum and my dad and everyone. People would sponsor me to get over to England on the plane to try and prove myself. It was a different journey but with my support network they did everything for me. It’s nice for them to see I’ve come so far but I’ve still got a long way to go.”

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Highlights of the Women’s Super League match between Aston Villa and Brighton & Hove Albion.

Le Tissier will set a new record for the most WSL appearances (53) as a teenager when Brighton play Arsenal live on Sky Sports on Sunday evening.

She has started 52 of the last 54 games in all competitions since January 2020 and has played every minute this season, which speaks volumes for her consistency of performance.

Le Tissier admits she did not see this amount of involvement coming so soon but wants to repay the faith boss Powell has shown in her.

“For her to give me an opportunity at such a young age and to not have been here a while is definitely something I’ve always been grateful for, I’ve wanted to repay that trust she had in me,” said Le Tissier.

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“She’s a legend in the game, I’ve learnt so much off her. I’m grateful she’s given me the opportunities she had and trusted me. We have such a together group and that’s credit to her and the standards that we set ourselves and the culture.

“Last summer Hope told me that she was going to try me at right-back and I was like, ‘Absolutely no chance!’ But I love it now and I think it’s where my strengths lie, being able to get up and down and I’m quite strong defensively too.

“I love testing myself against the best players. It’s been really good, to be on the pitch every week and training with the senior players. We have a great setup over here for young players to develop so it’s been really good.”

Image: Brighton and Hove Albion's Maya Le Tissier (left) and Arsenal's Beth Mead battle for the ball when they met in the WSL in January.

Le Tissier has represented England at U17, U19 and U23 level with a senior call-up, should it arrive, “a dream”. For now, she is focused on continuing to impress at Brighton, who are aiming for three consecutive WSL wins when they play Arsenal.

“We know it’s going to be a hard game, they’ve got world-class players, but we’re quite confident at the moment,” Le Tissier added.

“We had a little bit of a sticky period after Christmas, it was quite tough but not as bad as the season before so we knew we could get through it. We’ve been doing well, we just need to find that consistency.”

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