Cut open Lyndsey Harkin and she would bleed the red of Nottingham Forest and as a lifelong fan of the club, the 28-year-old captain of the Women’s team is living the dream.
The stylish central defender has seen her career go full circle. After rising through the ranks with the Reds, Harkin resigned for the club from Doncaster Belles in 2016.
Moving to the South Yorkshire-based outfit was an opportunity that the defender couldn’t refuse, despite her affection for Forest.
Lyndsey Harkin exclusively told The Focus: “I moved to Doncaster when the WSL was formed, which sadly Nottingham Forest didn’t get a license for.
“Once that was the case, I knew it was time to move on and challenge myself in the top league.
“I loved it with the Belles. The history of the club is massive and it was great to be a part of the club for the best part of six years.”
The former England youth international is now back at the club she calls home and couldn’t be happier.
Boss Andy Cook couldn’t have chosen a more befitting captain and prior to the season being expunged from the record, Forest were in with a shout for promotion.
Harkin believes the togetherness of the current crop of talent is helping the club’s fortunes on the pitch.
The skipper continued: “We’ve created an environment where we challenge and push each other to become better people and players.
“I believe our team spirit and winning mentality has played a massive part in our improvement too. If you create a hardworking environment that everyone wants to be a part of, it becomes a great foundation to improve and succeed.”
Forest Women aren’t currently in the professional bracket. That hasn’t stopped Cook maintaining sky-high standards and despite not training every day, Harkin says the team spirit is still evident.
Harkin said: “The team spirit we have is just natural. Even though we don’t train together every day, we always look forward to the next session. It’s refreshing to be part of a team that gets on so well on and off the pitch.
Boss Cook has put together a young side and they didn’t let him down during 2019/20.
His team who are based at Eastwood Community FC were third when the season was ended, having won five of their last six matches.
The youthfulness of the squad has delighted the Forest captain and she believes one player, in particular, could go a long way.
She added: “There is a lot of young talent coming through at the club. It’s great to see so many young girls enjoying the game improving every week.
“We have a lot of young players in our first team. Katie Middleton is one who has come through our youth setup. She has already played quite a lot of games for us and has huge potential.”
To some people, the armband might not mean much but to Harkin it’s special.
On the captaincy, Harkin said: “It feels special every time I put the armband on and lead the team out. I’m from Nottingham and have always supported Forest, so it’s always been a dream of mine.”
The ball-playing central defender was named Players’ Player of the Year for the 2019/20 campaign, something she called ‘a great honour’.
Harkin cites playing for England at youth level, leading Forest out against Jamaica at the City Ground and winning promotion with the Reds as he career highlights.
The mum of two young children might not be professional when it comes to football, but you wouldn’t think it to watch her play.
Each time she pulls on the red of Forest, you can tell the next 90 minutes mean everything to the enforcer.
A football anorak, Harkin believes the women’s game is only going to get bigger on these shores.
She said: “I think the more coverage that women’s football is given the better the game will be. The more opportunities for people to watch would promote the game to a wider audience.”
Despite already achieving a lot in the game, Harkin is under no illusions what she wants to accomplish before she eventually stops playing.
Bullishly when asked on her ambitions for the future, she says: “That one’s easy. Win promotion to the Championship with Forest!”
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