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Doncaster Features: Famous Doncastrian: Gillian Coultard

Gillian Coultard, of the Belles

Gillian Coultard

In October 2000, Gillian Coultard retired from England international duty, following a phenomenal 24 year association with the national team, and collecting a record 119 caps.

Gillian was born in Thorne, Doncaster and started playing football at the age of 9 with a Junior Boys Schools team until she was 13 when she was banned from competing in schools football with boys. This didn't stop her as she was called up for the England squad before she was 14!

She joined the Doncaster Belles in 1976 and played competitive football in the Nottinghamshire league. She didn't make her debut for England however until May 1981, and she soon left the Belles for Rowntrees near York for a couple of years. She returned to the Belles in 1984 and became captain in 1987. She combined her joy of football with her day job of working in a local factory during the day. A cup final programme from 1994 lists her hobbies as 'rugby league & knitting'!

Highly respected throughout the women's game, Gill on her retirement said: "Although I made my debut against the Republic of Ireland in 1981, I was actually only 13 when I was first selected for the England squad in 1976! I remember, very vividly my very first training session all those years ago, and I suppose you could say from then on I never looked back!"

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