Khiara Keating ‘happy that I could be an inspiration’ with England

By Sports Desk October 24, 2023

New England call-up Khiara Keating is well aware that one day she could make history as the first keeper from an ethnic minority background to play in goal for the Lionesses.

Keating is just 19 but her spectacular start to the season for Manchester City has caught the eye of England boss Sarina Wiegman, who named her in the squad who will face Belgium in two Nations League fixtures this month.

It may be some time before Keating – one of four keepers in a camp that includes England number one and FIFA Best award-winner Mary Earps – gets playing time, but she is already embracing her rapid rise to role model status.

She said: “Obviously I think it’s important for anyone to make their debut but obviously coming from a background of colour, there’s not many of us. I think we are starting to see a rise and I’m just happy that I could be an inspiration.

“Obviously anyone out there that’s thinking ‘maybe I will get judged’ or ‘maybe it’s not for me’, but yeah, I feel like I’m just grateful to be in a position where I can be a role model to people.”

Keating’s invitation, alongside fellow maiden call-up Grace Clinton, came during a week Arsenal came under criticism on social media after posting a photo of their squad consisting entirely of white women.

The club have since issued a statement acknowledging the lack of diversity in the first team and ambitions for that to change as a ‘key priority’ from the academy level and upwards.

Becky Spencer made history in 2014 when she became the first goalkeeper from an ethnic minority background called up to the Lionesses under Mark Sampson, but did not feature in a match before switching allegiances to Jamaica.

On the men’s side, David James is the only black goalkeeper to have represented England at senior level, while Shaka Hislop, who would later play for Trinidad and Tobago, was also called up for England.

Keating has started all three of Women’s Super League (WSL) leaders Manchester City’s matches to open the season, winning two clean sheets and conceding just one goal in a controversial 1-1 draw with Chelsea that saw two of her team-mates sent off.

She was driving when Wiegman first rang her with the good news, and it was only when she saw the England boss’ picture pop up on her phone that she realised she had potentially let a potentially life-changing chat go to voicemail.

“I thought maybe I should call her back to see what she wants!” joked Keating. “She delivered the great news and then I was just buzzing.

“[Training with Earps], she’s proven to everyone over this past year that she is so good and the best in the world and she can achieve anything. Obviously it is a bit surreal that I am here with her.

“I feel like it only became real yesterday when I was in the team meeting and obviously Sarina introduced us to everyone, seeing it first-hand.

“I feel like that was a pinch-me moment, where it was like ‘wow, Grace, we’re actually here’.”

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