Football: History awaits for New Zealand international Ria Percival in Women's FA Cup final

Ria Percival will be turning our for the 'Lady Hammers' at Wembley.
Ria Percival will be turning our for the 'Lady Hammers' at Wembley. Photo credit: Getty

Growing up in New Zealand, many only dream of going to England's Wembley Stadium.

Some are lucky enough to visit. Even fewer get the chance to play there, but on Sunday New Zealand's Ria Percival will do just that.

The Football Ferns most capped player is set to walk out in front of over 50,000 people for West Ham United against Manchester City in the Women's FA Cup final.

"Any footballer, the dream is to play in Wembley and to get my chance to play there in my first year playing in England I think is a massive achievement," Percival told Newshub.

On the face of it, the odds are heavily in Manchester City's favour.

Winners of this tournament in 2017, they didn't lose a game in the Super League this year - a record that included 7-1 and 3-1 victories against West Ham.

But the results only tell one side of the story. The lady Hammers are riding a wave of momentum at the moment buoyed by a confidence-building semi-final victory against Reading.

It was the only game Percival didn’t play due to injury but she's fully recovered and ready to take on one of the best sides' in England.

"We've shown that we can compete and play against them," Percival said.

"We're obviously ready for it and we have got confidence that we're gonna go in there and we're gonna wanna win."

It would certainly be a great way to end Percival's first year with West Ham.

The 29-year-old signed from Swiss club FC Basel at the beginning of the season as the East London club were given one of two new licenses for the fully professional 11-team Women's Super League.

The FA Cup final will be the penultimate match for Percival in the claret and sky blue colours this season (one regular season match next weekend) but even before that's played out she considers this year a success.

"It was a great option for me and I think I made the right decision in coming back here to play."

As a good fullback does, Percival's timed her run back to her country of birth to perfection.

The women's game in England has made huge strides forward recently, with Barclays confirming a multi-million dollar sponsorship deal of the WSL earlier this year.

Even after just one year, Percival's seen how the league's grown compared to previous years and other competitions around the world.

"They’ve made great strides to get more media coverage and just more recognition for the women's game."

"I think the next few years it could be one of the best if not the top league in the world"

Percival could be on top of the world if she was to win Sunday's final.