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Nicole Douglas exclusive: From Chelsea academy to ASU record-breaker 'once in career talent'

TribalFootball.com talks with Nicole Douglas, an English youth international forward who has set school scoring records at Arizona State University this season and will be looking to play professionally at the end of the 2022 American college season this winter.

One college player in America who should receive strong interest from professional clubs in Europe and the U.S. is English youth international Nicole Douglas, who has played at various levels for England since the U-15's, and became Arizona State University's all-time leader in career goals with two goals in ASU's 6-2 win at home over the University of Alabama-Birmingham on September 1.

Douglas was also the NCAA's leader in goals (19), goals per game (0.95) and points per game (2.25) in 2021 while setting school single season records for goals and points. Douglas came into the 2022 season needing five goals to surpass Sun Devil Hall of Famer Stacey Tullock's 21-year-old school record of 50 career goals; she accomplished that feat by scoring five goals in her first four games of the season. Tullock, also a native of England, went on to play a short time in the WUSA with the Philadelphia Charge.

ASU head coach Graham Winkworth, another native of England, said after the UAB match, "This [September 1] is Nicole Douglas day. I mean ASU soccer is almost going to have to make a date for it because she's so special to this program. She's not only a special individual talent, but she's an incredible teammate and incredible person. As a coach, she's one of those players that comes once in a career, not just because of talent, but because of her personality. She's so humble. She wants to celebrate everything with her teammates. And, you know, I wish her family could be here with her today. But she's got a second family here and I know she's really going to enjoy them. But she's a special talent and an incredible young woman. I will miss her next year."

TribalFootball.com asked Douglas after the UAB game about her mindset entering the season, as she didn't hesitate on setting the record early in the season while others who have chased records in football and other sports have struggled and gone multiple scoreless games in their attempts to set historic marks, "I came off a really really good season last year and I prepared as well as I could for this year…I put myself in the best position possible to do that. I had my team around me as well. Having amazing talent on this team just helps me and makes my job a lot easier so credit to my teammates as well."

She expounded on her feelings about setting the long-held scoring record at ASU, "Breaking (the school career goals record) is dedicated to my teammates, my family, my friends, my coaches, my mom, my dad, everybody who supported me on this journey. Coming in as a freshman at 18 years old [from London], I never thought this would be possible. Never thought about breaking records. And to hold that record now is just an unbelievable feeling. I'm speechless."

When asked about her professional aspirations after this season and where she would go if she had to pick a league/team now, "Dougie" as she is referred to affectionately by everyone around the team, replied, "I'm keeping my options open at the moment. Hopefully I have more than one [option]. If I keep playing as well as I have, hopefully I will get the team that I would like, whether it is the WSL or NWSL; both leagues are absolutely amazing, with amazing talent, and I would be grateful to play in any one of those leagues." Douglas played as a youth for Chelsea and it will be interesting to see if she will be on Blues manager Emma Hayes' list of prospects, as well as receiving interest from other WSL clubs.

In ASU's next match, a 5-0 home win over Grambling State University on September 14, Douglas broke Tullock's school record of 16 game-winning goals after recording her third of the season and 17th of her career; she also became the school's all-time points leader with 126, which she should add to during the PAC-12 regular season matches over the next two months. She is so beloved at ASU, who as of October 1 were 6-2-0 (W-T-L) including wins over the University of Colorado and University of California-Berkeley, that the announcer plays a snippet from the Tina Turner song (Simply) The Best after every Nicole Douglas goal.

ASU returned a quartet of fifth-year players (due to covid) in Douglas (75 starts/75 games), Arizona-raised winger Olivia Nguyen (40 starts/65 games, including 39 starts in 41 games since the start of her junior season), midfielder and full Mexican international Alexia Delgado (61 starts/68 games) and midfielder and Dutch youth international Eva van Deursen (70 starts/73 games). Van Duersen, who played for her country at the 2018 U-20 Women's World Cup in France just before her first season at ASU (as did Delgado for Mexico) needs only three more assists to break Tullock's all-time assist record of 25, after ASU's 5-0 home win over the University of Toledo on September 18—against the Rockets, the Dutch import did not have an assist but scored the final goal of the game.

Douglas has 18 career assists and is tied for fifth all-time on the ASU leaders list and leads the NCAA in goals per game and points per game. In a 3-2 win over Colorado away on September 23, Eva Van Duersen scored two goals in the second half, including the winning goal with 3 seconds left on the game clock [in college soccer, there is no injury time added]. Van Duersen should draw interest from clubs in her home nation of the Netherlands, where the club sides—led by Ajax—are improving very quickly and quite competitive now in the UEFA Women's Champions League.

Delgado, who started all three matches for Mexico in this summer's W-Championship Finals in Monterrey, should draw strong interest from clubs at home as well as in Spain. ASU added Gabi Rennie, a full New Zealand international and Olympic Games Finalist last year, this summer (see our interview with her last week after New Zealand won a pair of friendlies in California: The Week in Women's Football: A-League & Matildas; chat with NZ's Gabi Rennie; Chelsea star Sam Kerr on FIFA - Tribal Football).

ASU hopes to make the College Cup playoffs after going to the second round in the 2021 Spring Season (as covid postponed many college leagues from their traditional fall 2020 play). They have a special team with a group of players who began play in 2018 and will be missed next season, but they should have a variety of professional clubs rushing to sign them.


Tim Grainey is a contributor to Tribal Football. His latest book Beyond Bend it Like Beckham on the global game of women's football. Get yours copy today.

Follow Tim on Twitter: @TimGrainey



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