England left-back Claire Rafferty is trying not to look at the emails on her phone. In between the countless congratulations for making history at the Women’s World Cup are reminders of the work she will have to catch up on when she returns to work in the City as an analyst at Deutsche Bank.
Rafferty’s mind is on other matters, such as the Lionesses’ first ever World Cup semi-final, at midnight tonight against holders Japan.
Such is the growing interest in the fortunes of England’s women in Canada that the fixture has been moved from BBC Three to BBC One, and the Chelsea defender will return to her job in the Square Mile with a new status as well as a mountain of emails waiting for a response.
“I had to give quite a lot of notice about this World Cup,” Rafferty told City A.M. from the national team camp in Edmonton yesterday.
“As it was approaching, the responsibilities I had got slowly removed and handed over. I don’t think my workmates appreciated the increase in their workload but I’m sure I’ll have a lot to catch up on when I’m back.
“Before I was slightly undercover, no one really knew [I was a footballer]. I don’t know what a footballer’s supposed to look like but I think if I hadn’t told anyone no-one would have known. I think it might be a bit different coming back now.”
Rafferty turned down a professional contract with Chelsea in order to work both on the football field and in the City, where the economics graduate has taken up a variety of roles for Deutsche Bank since 2012.
Her “lucky break” came when meeting her current line manager, an American who “gets the magnitude” of women’s football and afforded her flexibility to fit office hours around her training schedule, as well as providing a safety net if football failed.
“If I had to go to training at 7pm I’d get in early and leave earlier and that kind of flexibility has really helped me a lot,” she adds. “Equally, I have a lot of corporate citizenship responsibilities, so they enjoy that I play football for the bank.”
“One of the reasons I have the job is to supplement income because if I can’t play football then what am I? What do I do?” she says, alluding to a number of lengthy injuries that put her career in doubt.
Yet despite pre-tournament fears, Rafferty’s knee has held up on Canada’s artificial surfaces and the 26-year-old has appeared in all bar one of England’s games to date.
In her downtime between games Rafferty has tried teaching her teammates general economic theory – it’s a bit of a struggle with a few but some are actually quite interested, she says – yet as tonight’s game approaches focus moves to the business at hand.
“We’ve gone through our tactics, we know how we’re going to play against Japan. If anyone’s nervous it’s more a kind of excited nervousness, it’s a positive vibe,” she says.
“We’re not ready to sit back and enjoy the ride from now on. We want to go all the way and we really think we can. We all believe the journey’s not over.”