Steph Houghton will lead England in tonight’s Women’s World Cup clash against Argentina. The Durham-born football star was named captain of the national team in 2014 and has played more than 100 times for the Lionesses. In addition to being captain for England she also captains Manchester City, who won both the FA cup and League Cup this season.
The centre-back is married to former Bradford City and Bolton Wanderers defender Stephen Darby.
Darby represented England at under-19 level and was part of the Bradford team that reached the 2013 Football League Cup Final before joining Bolton Wanderers for a short period.
The couple got married in June last year, but not long after they said “I do” in front of family and friends, tragedy struck Houghton’s husband.
On September 18, 2018, Darby announced he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease.
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He also revealed he would be retiring from professional football at the age of 29.
Motor neuron diseases are a group of neurodegenerative disorders that selectively affect motor neurons, the cells which control voluntary muscles of the body.
However, despite his illness, he is expected to travel to France to watch his wife play.
Houghton said ahead of the World Cup: “He comes to all my games and is my No1 supporter.
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“He’s my priority. If anything were to change in the near future, my job is to be the best wife I can and look after him.
“But at the moment, everything is great. He’s as good as ever.”
But although spending much time caring for her ill husband, those closest to her believe Houghton will be fully focused in the World Cup.
Her younger brother Stuart told The Sun on Sunday: “She has had massive ups and downs but her head is so screwed on, she knows exactly what she needs to do to get back.
“She has managed to refocus, that’s special. You can have a talent, but to be able to overcome adversities the way she has is inspirational.
“Both boys and girls can take a lot from that. I get to see the impact Steph has had on young girls. The uptake in football has rocketed.
“She takes part in Skype calls and goes into schools and speaks to the girls.
“They realise it is attainable to become a female footballer.
“If you work hard, something you dream about can become reality. Steph has proved that.”