Report by Alex Jones
England Lioness Demi Stokes' primary school teacher has said he knew from very early on that she would become a top footballer.
Ian Williamson taught the former Sunderland full-back from the age of 10 at Marine Park Primary School in South Shields.
But her footballing talent was evident far before then. Mr Williamson told ITV News that soon after she joined the school aged just four, her flair for the sport was hard to miss.
"Very quickly you could see on the playground that she was very good at football," he said at a St George's Park open day on Tuesday 21 June.
Mr Williamson made her the first female footballer on the school team and gave her the captaincy shortly after.
Stokie, now 30, went on to play for Sunderland, the Vancouver Whitecaps and Man City. She received her first England cap in 2014 and it was last week announced that she was part of the 2022 Women's Euros squad.
A proud Mr Williamson said her success is made all the more remarkable by the barriers she faced as a female athlete.
"It’s been wonderful to see her progress and blossom into an international footballer," he added.
"I feel very proud, very honoured. I’m really looking forward to seeing Demi play for England this summer.
"Demi and others were trailblazers and pioneers. She’s a very determined and dedicated young woman and I’m incredibly proud of what she’s achieved."