Jordan Nobbs believes England Women had to hit rock bottom to realise what it would take to be major players on the international stage.
An embarrassing Euro 2013 campaign saw the Lionesses muster just one point from three group games to slide out of the tournament early, and the failure cost manager Hope Powell her job.
Nobbs is a survivor from that squad and is now the England vice-captain as the team prepare to begin their Euro 2017 campaign with an eye-catching match against Scotland at Utrecht’s Galgenwaard Stadium on Wednesday.
Like many of her team-mates she cringes at the memories of the tournament in Sweden four years ago, but she suggests England’s success since then has been founded on what they learnt about themselves when in crisis.
“Even though it was a bad time for us at the time, it was probably a big turning point when you look at where we are now, and what we’ve all experienced we don’t want to experience that again,” Nobbs told Press Association Sport.
“We’ve learnt a lot from that tournament. I was a young player and I hadn’t been in the squad very long, but everyone was obviously gutted not to have done better.
“Maybe it was just one of those tournaments. but we’re far away from that tournament now, in terms of talents, strengths and beliefs as a squad.”
Nobbs, 24, is the daughter of former Hartlepool no-nonsense defender Keith Nobbs.
She warmed the bench throughout the 2013 tournament and watched on as England slumped to defeats against Spain and France, and drew with Russia.
The team and manager Powell took flak for the performances and Nobbs, now a mainstay of the side, says England could have handled themselves better on and off the pitch.
“We weren’t prepared and ready for it,” she said. “The women’s game had just started to progress and I just think we weren’t ready for everything that was happening.
“As elite athletes we take that on board, accept it as part of our job, but we just want to keep pushing the women’s game, and hopefully us performing this summer will definitely be good for the long run with the growth of women’s football.”
Since the last European Championship, England, under new manager Mark Sampson, have gone on to finish as the continent’s top team at the 2015 World Cup, beating mighty Germany in the third-place play-off. To measure that achievement, Germany have won the last six European Championships.
The Scotland game is one with a significance that some in the England camp attempt to play down. Others, Nobbs included, recognise the heightened interest it will bring to the women’s game, and relish the British ‘derby’ aspect of the fixture.
“With it being so local as well, for Scotland and England fans to come over and watch, I think it will be a great game,” Nobbs said.
“We’re excited. I think both teams know what a big game that is, and with us knowing some of their girls and them knowing us.”