Both players are currently on Cyprus Cup duty with Alfie Wylie’s squad, and while Emma reached the milestone against New Zealand last Tuesday, and was honoured with the captain’s armband, Ashley resumed her role and made her 50th appearance against South Korea two days later.
The two have been team-mates for seven years, and in that time both players have missed only a handful of matches, with Emma being ever-present since November 2006, and Ashley captaining the side for more than 20 of her half-century of International appearances. Indeed Ashley has scored no fewer than nine times for Northern Ireland, including, remarkably, a hat-trick of headers against Georgia in 2006.
Alfie Wylie, their manager for all of those matches, paid tribute to their dedication, commitment and enthusiasm for the national team: “Both girls have made great sacrifices to play for their country, often travelling from England, America and more recently Iceland.
“In football it’s well known that a team must have a strong spine and these two certainly provide that. Moreover they are great role models for the younger members of the squad. They joined the team as schoolgirls themselves, and carried on through full-time education into their present employment, all the time dedicating themselves to the team and travelling the world with Northern Ireland.”
Ashley is modest about her achievement: “Obviously it’s a great honour to have gained my 50th cap, and I suppose the highlights include my hat-trick of headers and our great victory over former World Champions Norway when I got the vital second goal.”
Emma too is honoured to have reached the half-century: “When I made my debut against Portugal in the Algarve Cup in 2004, as a 17-year-old, I never thought I would go on to win 50 caps. I have enjoyed every minute of my career so far, and I fully intend to target my 100th cap.”
Source - irishfa.com
Pictured - Alfie Wylie and Assistant Coach, Gail Macklin congratulate Ashley Hutton and Emma Higgins on winning their 50th Northern Ireland senior international cap. Ashley and Emma won their 50th caps in the Cyprus Cup against South Korea and New Zealand respectively. (Roy Cathcart)
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