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Free-scoring UEL footballer earns call-up to England Under 19s

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Rinsola Babajide selected for Euro 17 qualifiers in Turkey

University of East London (UEL) student Rinsola Babajide has underlined her reputation as one of the country’s most exciting young footballers after being selected for the Women’s England Under 19s for the upcoming Euro 2017 qualifiers.

Rinsola, 18, has been rewarded for her outstanding goal-scoring form for Watford Ladies and UEL this season. In one match for the University – against University College London – she came on a second-half substitute and netted an astonishing 14 goals.

The qualifiers will see her fly with the England squad to Turkey next week to play Denmark, the Czech Republic and the host nation in an intense week of games. The Euro 2017 finals take place in Northern Ireland in the summer.

Rinsola says she is delighted with her selection and can’t wait to showcase her talents on the pitch. She describes herself as “rapid and skilful on the wing, like Wilfred Zaha and Gareth Bale”.

She said, “It’s a big honour. It’s always overwhelming to get the email from the England team to say that you’ve been selected.

“You can’t really expect to start but I’m just going to take all of my opportunities that come. So if I do start and get good minutes on the pitch I shall prove to myself that I’m worthy of a place in the team and to stay there.”

Rinsola hopes to follow in the footsteps of Toni Duggan and Jordan Nobbs, who were part of the England team that won the European Under 19s tournament in 2009 and are now members of the senior England squad.

“I want to become a professional athlete in the WSL1 [Women’s Super League 1] and also play in the first team for my country as well,” she said.

Rinsola began playing football at primary school at the age of six before honing her skills at the Afewee Football Academy in Brixton, south London.

The academy encourages boys and girls to develop their balls skills from an early age and five former members have gone on to play for Premiership clubs, including Liverpool and England defender Nathaniel Clyne.

Rinsola, signed for Watford Ladies in February, having previously played for Millwall Lionesses. She is studying for a degree in Sports Coaching at UEL and is supported by the University’s acclaimed sports scholarship programme.

She said, “I get access to the gym and a strength and conditional programme that was given to me as an international athlete and which is helping me out on the pitch.”

Her talents have helped UEL complete a league and cup double and remain unbeaten all season – and Rinsola is hoping for even more success in the future.

“I just want to get promoted each season,” she said. “Staying unbeaten the whole time I’m here too would be good, too. We can do that by progressing as a team and learning how each other plays."