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From Emma Sanders
When England forward Toni Duggan faces former club Manchester City at the Champions League on Wednesday, it will bring back memories of the time prior training sessions and Spanish classes with Kieran Trippier.
Duggan, 28, will return to the Academy Stadium in the first leg of the last-16 tie, and swapped Barcelona for Atletico Madrid this summer after spending four years in City.
She won four main titles at City and has been a part of the England squads that finished fourth and third at the 2015 and 2019 Women’s World Cups respectively.
In a wide-ranging interview with BBC Sport, Duggan talks about Roman culture, friendship with prior Tottenham guardian Trippier along with the”humiliation” of last year’s Champions League final defeat.
When she left Barcelona in the summer liverpool-born Duggan moved to Spain but could have returned to England.
Manchester United were reportedly an alternative but following a”crazy” transfer window chose Spanish champions Atletico.
“It was a bit up in the air. There have been opportunities in various countries but Atletico were the right club at the right time. Their style of play suits me down into the ground,” Duggan told BBC Sport.
“I’ve just missed one year competing in the Champions League – that was my first year at Manchester City and it had been difficult. My choices were fairly limited when you weigh that up.”
Duggan admits she still”overlooks home a lot” and it can be”hard” being away from family.
“I felt that way in Barcelona and that I believe I miss it now,” she said. “Football is a short career so you need to take the opportunities in the future.
“Family come to help me however it’s not the same as sitting at the living room together along with my brothers and my mum, all winding up each other and doing things you do not get to perform.”
But family is.
“I do not half miss out a roast! I discovered a location in Barcelona and every Sunday I tried to return there. I need to locate anyone in Madrid.”
One of Duggan’s main challenges has been learning the language after admitting she”could not relax” at Barcelona her Spanish has”really enhanced” at Madrid.
“In Barcelona they are treated by them by speaking Catalan as well. There were times when you believed you were doing really well then somebody talked in Catalan and you also couldn’t comprehend a sentence and were somewhat confused,” said Duggan.
“I wouldn’t be overly confident doing a complete meeting in Spanish yet but I can certainly get by.”
Duggan says Spain’s coaching styles are”another level” to that which she was used to in England.
“A great deal of it had been using the ball at Barcelona and it’s quite similar in Madrid,” she explained. “All the women are technical – more than in England. They place a significant emphasis on this.
“Physically, I don’t believe the Spanish team is quite at the level of England but it’s been very interesting seeing the abilities that they do.
“Even the difference between Atletico and Barcelona – their designs are so different.”
The girls game is”on the up” in Spain says Duggan, who shopped for former club Barcelona at a 2-0 triumph over Atletico facing 60,739 lovers in the Wanda Metropolitano last year – a record for a top-flight national women’s game in Europe.
Former Tottenham defender Trippier joined Duggan at Atletico Madrid this summer, signing up up a three-year deal.
The pair traded messages before finally grabbing at a joint training session.
“I’ve spoken to him quite a little,” said Duggan. “We were in the identical complex for the first few months but I kept missing him.
“I’d see Diego Costa along with the other players but never seemed to capture Kieran.
“We had a training session 2 weeks ago and I managed to catch him up then.
“His family are over here and he’s taking Spanish classes – he is actually trying hard in that regard. He explained the manager speaks so quickly, he wishes to try and pick it up more.
“He is really pleased with the conclusion that he’s made. It’s nice that I have that support from him now and of course, I give it to him too.”
More English players are going to Europe and Duggan says it is because players enjoy England’s Lucy Duggan and Izzy Christiansen – that combined Champions League winners Lyon at 2017 and 2018 respectively have done.
“I think that it’s really great for the English game for individuals to go away and examine themselves. It will challenge you and improve you. That can help England as a national group.
“People aren’t as worried as they were in the past. It is the exact same from the men’s match since Jadon [Sancho] is performing really well at Borussia Dortmund and now Trippier here at Atletico.”
Duggan began last year’s closing and moved into Spain looking for a Champions League name.
But Barcelona’s 4-1 defeat Lyon abandoned her”devastated” and”humiliated”.
“England were on duty before the World Cup and I knew all the staff were sitting watching on a big monitor,” she states.
“I could not get that from my mind – the night following the match it was all that I could think about.
“When I turned up into the England camp later, people were saying’well done for getting that much’. But for me, it felt as though this wasn’t great enough. You visit finals to acquire it”
A quarter-final location is up for grabs from City and if asked if playing against her England team-mates includes validity, Duggan said:”Yes I wish to win.
“I’m sure City will need some revenge [for last season’s defeat by Atletico]. I don’t wish to turn up to the upcoming break while they’re speaking about being at the next round of the Champions League and I’m not.
“I need to win that battle. I want to win every match but I need to win more so against City or any other ex-club.”
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