Middag: I want to enjoy every moment with West Ham United
The 2019/20 FA Barclays Women’s Super League campaign is still a few weeks from beginning, but Tessel Middag is eager to soak in every single moment on the pitch for West Ham United.
It has been far from an easy two years for the midfielder. An ACL injury sustained during the 2017/18 campaign ruled Middag out for most of her final season with Manchester City. After signing for West Ham United, heartbreak struck again. Middag again tore her ACL on international duty, causing her to miss the entirety of her debut season with the Claret and Blue.
Middag has slowly been re-introduced to the demanding training schedule that professional players have to follow. The Hammers playmaker worked with the medical team and physiotherapists at Rush Green towards the end of last season and has linked up with her new teammates for pre-season.
The Dutch international will be like a new signing for Matt Beard’s side. But Middag herself is just relishing the prospect of stepping onto the field as a West Ham player.
“We started pre-season a couple of weeks ago and I’m just really enjoying being on the pitch on a daily basis with the team,” Middag said. “It’s what I’ve been missing in the last two years; to do that on a regular basis.
“Last year, it was frustrating. I just want to play football. I became a West Ham player, but I couldn’t play for West Ham, and I’m a Dutch player who couldn’t be at the World Cup either.
“It was quite tough to take but I’m looking forward to being fully involved and playing. For the first part of my rehab last season, I went back to Holland. I came back for the last three months of the season. I was with the team full-time and trained with the medical team, which was good for me.
“I just want to enjoy every step I take and hopefully I can help to make an impact for this team.”
West Ham United secured a seventh-place finish in the Barclays WSL last season, while also reaching the FA Cup Final and securing a Wembley outing against Manchester City.
Middag knows the women’s top-flight will prove to be even tougher for the Irons as they prepare for a second campaign as a professional outfit, but believes the Hammers have all the capabilities of improving.
The midfielder says a strong mentality and belief is needed throughout the squad, saying the team has the ability to be any other team in the WSL.
She added: “We’re aiming high. It’s only our second professional season and we know there are established clubs in this division.
“We’ve seen some top teams come up as well in Manchester United and Tottenham. I think there will be loads of teams who have a lot of quality in their squad. We must try to establish ourselves in the league and show our winning mentality; that we’re not afraid to take on the top teams and show we can win every game.
“We’re ready to push on now after our first professional campaign last season. I can see us winning against anyone this season.”