England midfielder Georgia Stanway has revealed that former Manchester United player Luke Chadwick has proven to be something of a secret weapon for her by serving as mentor to focus her mind for the Lionesses’ bid for Women’s World Cup glory.
Former England youth international Chadwick, who began his career with Manchester United before later playing more than 200 times for Milton Keynes Dons, has been giving Stanway advice the day before every match so far at the World Cup Down Under, with the pair having been working together since prior to 2021’s Olympics in Tokyo. Telegraph Sport understands that the relationship has stemmed from connections with Stanway’s agent, which has led to the pair working together now for several years.
“He went through his battles as a player and I was facing, not similar battles, but my individual battles, at Manchester City,” she said.
“He hoped to help mentor players and hopefully put people on the right path, making sure that they don’t experience what he did, or if they do experience it then he can say, ‘This is what helped me’. He’s honestly the best guy, one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.
“Once or twice a week I speak with (Chadwick) and that’s something that I’ve done for a few years now. I’m not afraid to say it, I went through a time at City where it was a little bit up and down in terms of my mentality, my position, everything was changing and he was my go-to in terms of getting clarity on my position, clarity on what I wanted to achieve in that season.
“My goal was to get to the Olympics. I set out a plan at the start and was like ‘this is what I want to do, this is what I want to achieve’, whether it be goals, whether it be assists, whether it be making sure my house is tidy on a weekly basis.
“In this tournament, (we’ve) spoken every match day minus one, in the evening before the game, and that just allows me to process the information that we’ve got from England and process the information that I’ve done throughout the season and just knowing that the work is done and just to go out there and play my game.
“You rely on the good luck message before the game and he never fails. Always after a game, he’s the first one to say something positive and then it’s like, ‘OK, let me know when you want to talk’, so it’s always on my terms, which is so understanding as well.”
Stanway has started every game of the Lionesses’ run to the World Cup semi-finals, and also played every match of their Euros triumph last summer, and will be hoping to reach another final when they face Australia in Sydney on Wednesday.
The 24-year-old says she is taking on more informal leadership this summer, adding: “Although I’m still young, I’m in an environment where I’m not young anymore,” she added. “I’ve been to a few major tournaments. I’ve been successful at club in terms of domestic trophies and individual achievements have been good over the last years, so kind of subconsciously you’ve got to mature and you’ve got to be more of a leader in that instance.
“I am big on numbers. I could come away from the game feeling on top of the world and then my mentor could bring me back down to Earth, and say ‘oh, no, your passing was shocking today’, or vice-versa, and it’s just kind of [about] staying level and staying consistent and being consistent in the way that I am as a person and the way that I am on the field.
“It’s just like the one percenters, so making sure that I’m doing my recovery right, making sure that I’m having that time away from football as well as football because that’s so important. (It’s about) being true to who you are, so I will always be the jokey Georgia, and the Georgia that takes everything a bit less serious, and I’ve kind of had to learn over the years when to take things serious and when not to take things serious. Through the years, you just kind of find yourself a little bit, and you find out what works for you.”
“At the start of the season, I always write down things that I want to do off the pitch and things that I want to do on the pitch as well. In terms of my lifestyle and moving to Munich, one of the most important things was (getting) the things that I need in my apartment to live, and just get them ticked off so there’s less stress. My mentor is the person that can take my stress away from me so my focus is on football. So if there’s anything that I need then I go to him.”
In particular, Stanway has focused on her discipline in England’s past four games, having picked up a yellow card in the opening victory over Haiti and then knowing that another single booking would see her suspended. That lingering threat has now passed because yellow cards are wiped after the quarter-finals, and Stanway added: “I’m so relieved about that. That’s why I was having my meetings on match-day minus one, because it was ‘Right, disciplined Georgia today’.
“In terms of me and my choices, I think over the last four games I think I’ve just picked and chosen when I do need to go for it and when I don’t, and I think that’s something that I’ve definitely learned over the last four games is do I need to go for the ball if it’s only like a 10 per cent chance of winning? And can I just be a little bit more sensible? It might have helped me in the long run. I’m actually proud of myself for lasting five games with only one yellow.”