Her name is Veatriki Sarri and she is the first and only Greek player in the Barclays FA Women’s Super League. Playing football for Birmingham City, she hopes to be the catalyst for others to make the big move.
Sarri joined Birmingham in January having previously played football for Sheffield United. She announced herself by way of an injury-time equalizer in her debut against arch-rivals Aston Villa.
The Greek forward has risen from the fourth division to become a full-time professional football player. She made her senior Greece football debut aged just 17. “That was incredible. I used to play at first for the under 17s and then the under 19s,” she said.
“And then all of a sudden, I got the call-up from the senior team, and I was ecstatic. I was over the moon, that was a dream come true. It’s an honor (to be the first Greek BFA WSL player)”, she says.
Breaking ground for Greek women to become football players
“Hopefully, that opens the way for other girls who are from Greece that want to play football in England. I know there’s a lot of talented players in Greece who could play in the league.”
Sarri first came to England to play football for Leeds United in 2017, before joining up with coach Carla Ward for the first time at Sheffield United. She then made the move to the top division in January 2021, working again with Ward at Birmingham City.
“My mum is English, so I had traveled to England before and I always knew that I wanted to come here,” she says. “I liked England as a country and also the career prospects in terms of football. I knew that I could play professionally in England, so that was always in my mind.
“That was something I wanted to do and then when I finished school, when I was 18,” she adds. I made the decision to travel to England, and play football and study at the same time.
From the fourth division all the way to Super League
“So, I did a degree and played football and made my way up through the ranks, starting at Leeds, which at the time was in the fourth division. I made my way up from the fourth, third, second, first division. It was a bit of a journey!”
She says that it was incredible because that was all she wanted to do. That was the reason she came to England, to play football professionally. So she started almost from the bottom and made her way up. “It was a dream come true,” she says.
The 23-year-old is also leading the way through her YouTube channel, in which she gives a unique look at the life of a professional female football player.
She explains: “I watch behind the scenes of other professional athletes and footballers in particular. I think at the time there wasn’t really any behind the scenes of women’s football at the high level.”
Birmingham City has had a difficult start to the football season, picking up their first point of the campaign just before the international break. Sarri believes it may take time for the new squad’s hard work to fully pay off.