Tottenham striker bidding to 'break down barriers' ahead of Manchester United showdown

Martha Thomas scored the winner in the semi-finals
Martha Thomas scored the winner in the semi-finals -Credit:Photo by Paul Harding/Getty Images

When Martha Thomas steps out under the Wembley arch this weekend, it will be the second time in as many years she has starred in an FA Cup final.

But while she took to the pitch last season as a Manchester United player, coming on as a late substitute as Marc Skinner's side were narrowly beaten by Chelsea, this term she will be facing off against her former club and hoping to guide Tottenham Hotspur to their first major trophy.

"It’s something that’s obviously been asked a lot and I think the best way for me to explain it is we want to lift the trophy regardless of who we’re playing against," Thomas tells and other selected media when quizzed on the prospect of coming back to haunt United.

"I don’t have a vendetta or anything. I’ve got a lot of good friends on that team and had a lot of great times there but this is football and you see good friends competing all the time domestically and internationally. The beauty of football is that you can switch all of that off and it’s just 11 vs 11 on the pitch and I’m just hoping we’ll be able to get over the line and win a trophy for the club."

Certainly, lifting some silverware this weekend would be the perfect way to cap off an impressive individual campaign for Thomas, who left United for Tottenham last summer. After a challenging spell at Leigh Sports Village, where she started just one game last term, the Scotland international has excelled in north London and was named the Women's Super League (WSL) Player of the Month for October after scoring six times in the Spurs' first four league games.

She created further history by scoring the winner against Arsenal to hand Tottenham their first ever WSL win over their bitter rivals back in December and it was her 118th-minute header that saw Robert Vilahamn's side topple Leicester City to reach the FA Cup final. "There’s definitely a big buzz around the club with the success we’ve had this season," she says.

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"This is just the very baseline for us. I think the new style of play has got everyone excited and we’ve had some big results that have brought us a lot of pride. There have also been results where we should have done better.

"We walked away from United away (in the WSL) disappointed with one point, which says it all about the direction we’re going in and the expectations we have for ourselves, so it’s a really exciting culture to be a part of."

The biggest influence behind Tottenham's recent culture shift is manager Vilahamn, who arrived from BK Häcken last summer. The Swede, who also enjoyed a professional playing career in his homeland before becoming a coach, has transformed a club who spent much of last season flirting with relegation into one of the most exciting teams in the WSL.

"Being a forward himself, Robert's got the experience there and he knows what it’s like being a forward," Thomas says. "Everyone wants to score as many goals as possible, but if it were that easy, then everyone would do it.

"He gives me confidence with that and we work a lot on attacking patterns and finishing and it’s just nice to be able to create chances and have the opportunity to score as many goals as I can."

And Thomas is not the only prolific forward Spurs have at their disposal, with former Chelsea striker Bethany England having joined the club for an English record fee in January 2023. It was her goals that helped Tottenham preserve their WSL status last season and while injury has prevented the pair from playing together much this term, Thomas is hopeful her strike partnership with England could help fire Vilahamn's side to glory on Sunday afternoon.

"Beth’s a fantastic player," she says. "It’s something we haven’t had loads of experience doing because she was injured first half of the season and I’ve struggled fitness-wise in the second half of the season. But I think we’ve shown glimpses of us playing together and being successful. Any team would be lucky to have the experience and the quality she has."

Tottenham's progression to the FA Cup final means there will be a new winner in the competition outside of the WSL top three - Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City - for the first time since Birmingham City's victory in 2012. But, whether or not Spurs manage to get their hands on the trophy, Thomas is hopeful that this is just the start of the club's rise to the very top of the women's game.

"It’s all about stepping stones for us," she says. "The club obviously have plans for us to be competing as high up as we can against the top teams. Going from a relegation battle last season to where we are now has been a massive jump and we’re looking forward to continuing to break down those barriers."