A FOOTBALLER from Ledbury has recently made her senior debut for Wales in the recent Nations League international window.

Mary McAteer, from Ledbury, came off the bench in the 5-1 defeat to taste senior international football for the very first time at the age of just 19. 

McAteer signed for Sunderland in the summer after spending time with Bristol City and Aston Villa through her teenage years. She was playing for Coventry United on loan last season before her move to the north with Sunderland.

Allan Hawkins, a football coach based in Ledbury, first came across Mary when she was just four years old.

"Mary attended my coaching school that I ran at John Masefield for girls and boys aged 18 months to five years old," he said.

"She was with me until five but wanted to stay on with the scheme so I ended up extending that age range to nine just so Mary could continue.

"But in the end I told her she had to go and find a club and play football so I sent her to Ross Juniors and I remember she came off the bench with ten minutes to play on her debut and she scored a hat-trick."

McAteer went on to play for six years at Bristol City, where she continued to develop and it was not long before the Welsh coaches approached her to play.

She also played two games for England at U16 level, but McAteer decided to go down the Welsh route and earlier this year she captained the U19 side.

And now she is a full senior international and Hawkins spoke of his pride.

"We are all hoping this is the first of many caps," he said. "It's a proud moment for me.

"I have a number of professional players who I coach but they are all males and keepers, Mary is the only outfield player!

"Mary sailed through our programme but fair play to her, she is so humble and always wanting to work on her game.

"She never forgets her routes, her family still live in Ledbury and she often comes down to meet the boys and girls at my Ledbury coaching sessions.

"She's a delight, such a lovely girl and her parents are too, they are very supportive.

"She is pulling up trees right now, she is exactly what Wales need with younger players and Mary is certainly on their radar now so hopefully she can go on and earn plenty more caps!"