New goalkeeper Katie Startup spoke of how big a pull working with Hope Powell was after putting pen-to-paper on a two-year deal with the Seagulls.
The 21-year-old arrives from Championship side Charlton Athletic and will provide competition for Megan Walsh and Cecilie Fiskerstrand in the WSL next season.
Former England boss Powell was one of the first names Startup knew in the women’s game, and the prospect of playing in one of her teams was a huge draw.
Startup said, “I am not too ashamed to say that I will probably fangirl a little bit! Growing up, when she was England manager, she was one of the main female names in football that I knew.
“I remember thinking that, because of her, women can have high positions in football so it’s going to be quite a moment when I work her to be honest, almost a full circle moment. I am really excited and she is really highly thought of in the game. I am hoping to learn a lot from her.”
It’s that development of her game that Startup is really hoping to focus on, having been a regular for the Addicks after joining them three seasons ago.
“There’s a fantastic chance here for me to grow and challenge myself. I think at the start it’s going to be a bit strange getting used to, but this is the sort of environment I have been striving to get into since I started football. Everybody wants to be playing full-time, that’s the dream.
“I am really grateful to Charlton. I was there for nearly three years and played almost every game during that period. That amount of game time for somebody my age is huge, there is stuff that happens in matches that you just can’t replicate in training.”
Towards the end of her time with Charlton, she started wearing the number 40 shirt instead of number one – raising awareness for a cause close to her heart.
“The traditional goalkeeper shirt is number one, I had that at Charlton pretty much the whole time I was there,” Startup explained.
“So I knew deviating from that would raise questions and conversations, because it’s not the norm. I thought if I could do that to raise awareness of a cause I am really passionate about, then that could be really effective.
“I have done a few things for Mental Health Awareness before, I have had a few friends who have been affected by it. I did a bit of digging and found this stat that one person every 40 seconds in the world commits suicide – it just really struck a chord with me, it is such a high number.
“I knew that 40 was the one to go for with the shirt, because it is such a powerful statistic. It has raised the point and conversation as I had hoped, way more than I expected to be honest.
“I thought as long as some of the regulars who come to watch Charlton asked and I could have a conversation with them, then it would have been a success. So I am so lucky, it was a really proud moment.”