Toni Duggan isn’t dancing to the samba beat just yet – the Lionesses hotshot wants to transform Barcelona’s Brazilian tradition into English heritage.
The Scouse striker made her switch to Spain in summer 2017 and trod on a storied succession of South American imports to the Nou Camp.
Duggan’s fellow Liverpool royalty Philippe Coutinho and Seleção women star Andressa Alves adorn Barcelona’s current teams, with Neymar, Ronaldinho and Rivaldo heading the same way before them.
Now the 27-year-old, who is only the second English-born player to wear blaugrana colours after Gary Lineker, wants her country to be bettering Brazil both on and off the pitch.
That could start as soon as Saturday, with the two great footballing nations meeting in a friendly at Meadow Lane.
“There’s a great history of Brazilians at Barcelona and so many top foreign players have gone to the club to play,” said Duggan.
“I want to join them but also start a pattern in the women’s game, to encourage any girls with dreams of playing abroad that they can do it.
“I haven’t quite got the hang of the samba! I’ve not got much in the way of rhythm but I want to go back to Barcelona with bragging rights over Andressa at least.
“She’s a great player and I look forward to going up against her.
“Whenever England play Brazil it’s a massive game – in men’s or women’s football. I’ve never played them before so I can’t wait.”
Brazil are in the midst of a wobble in the shape of back-to-back losses to USA at the Tournament of Nations and to Canada in a subsequent friendly.
But the team ranked eighth in the world cling on to the inspiration of five-time World Player of the Year Marta, who England will be tasked with marking tightly in the East Midlands.
The Meadow Lane clash will only be England’s third home game since Phil Neville’s appointment in January and their return to home soil means more to Duggan than most.
Before her Barcelona transfer, the former Manchester City ace underlined her only reservation around the move would be stopping her family from watching her every week.
Duggan is delighted her nearest and dearest, as well as the wider English women’s football family, will get the chance to see her in action again at the weekend.
“It’s really difficult because watching me play was a hobby in itself for my family,” she said.
“It was all about where Toni was playing and when, how many cars they could take to watch and how many people they could fit in them.
“Phil is brilliant with allowing me to see my family after games because he knows I don’t get to see as much of them living abroad.
“I’m not used to the grey skies and rain any more but it’s great to be back with the girls and Phil – our journey to the World Cup really starts now.
“Hopefully we can play in front of a packed stadium and produce a really good, free-flowing contest.”
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