- LCFC Women will play in the Barclays FA Women's Super League next season
- The Foxes secured the FA Women's Championship title with a 2-0 win over London City Lionesses
- Defender Ashleigh Plumptre spoke with emotion about the achievement on Sunday
- The Leicester-born star is excited to compete with the game's best players in 2021/22
With two matches to spare, the Foxes are unassailable at the summit, eight points clear of second-placed Durham Women, after a campaign which has included 15 victories - 12 of which have come consecutively - and 10 clean sheets across 18 games so far.
After emerging through the Club's Academy as a youngster, avid-Leicester fan Plumptre headed to Los Angeles in the United States to finesse her skills before returning to LCFC Women last season, excited by their potential to achieve promotion.
Following the achievements of 2020/21, City will compete in the Barclays FA Women's Super League for the first team next season and Plumptre was still struggling to make sense of it all during her post-match interview following Sunday's title-sealing win over London City Lionesses.
Emotional Plumptre's Promotion Pride
Leicester-born defender Ashleigh Plumptre speaks following LCFC Women's promotion to the Barclays FA Women's Super League.
"It feels surreal, it really does," the 22-year-old defender said. "I joined obviously 18 months ago and, when I spoke to Jonathan [Morgan], the first thing that we talked about was our aim to get promoted and to win the league at the end of the season.
"To think that, 18 months later, after everything that we've been through, ups and downs, people coming in, people coming out, to have done it with another two games to spare, it’s just surreal - and to do it at home too. It's unbelievable!
"I literally looked at the badge before I walked out and then, with five minutes to go, I looked at it again and I ended up tearing up when I was on the pitch with five minutes left!"
That sense of belonging evokes strong emotions for Plumptre, who proceeded to explain why winning the title with her hometown club means so much.
I've managed to do it with literally my hometown team. I have shirts [from] when I was like four years-old, going to games when the men were in the Championship.Ashleigh Plumptre LCFC TV
"It just means more because I'm playing for something bigger than me," she added. "I don't just play football just because I want to do well in it. I like to represent something that's bigger than me and I've grown up here.
"I had to go away and then to America and then I've come back I've been able to come back to the only team that I wanted to come to. I've managed to do it with literally my hometown team. I have shirts [from] when I was like four years-old, going to games when the men were in the Championship.
"Now to think I'm representing my club, where I'm from, and to win… like I said, I play for something bigger than me and I play to win and to think that I've done that here, I literally cannot ask for anything better."
City have had to battle through adversity in 2020/21, firstly attempting to gel an entirely new squad together last summer, before being highlighted by every team in the division as the side to beat after they turned professional ahead of the season's curtain-raiser.
For Plumptre, though, this only added to the team spirit and allowed the players to forge a bond in the dressing room.
LCFC Women: FA Women's Championship Champions
LCFC Women are the winners of the FA Women's Championship and will participate in the Barclays FA Women's Super League next season!
"It's just been a long haul of a season," she explained. "The last time we played these, we lost to them and, people back then, when we lost 4-1, really would have thought, you know, ‘maybe the ship's sinking already’. But we've had the pressure on our back all season.
"Nobody wanted us to win really because we're the only team that are fully professional. We're provided with everything. So people want to get a one up on us and we've just got through all of it and now we've come out winners.
"Everybody's in there celebrating together, and rightly so. It's a season to be celebrated because I definitely think we deserve it. We've worked so hard and there were times where you can see it in the way that we play and the way that we talk to each other on the pitch.
"We gear each other up because we know that we can't just win with 10, we just can't win with 11, we have to win with everybody and, I put it out to all the girls, within the first five minutes, we were doing headers and clearances and I could hear the subs from the off.
"I really think, for me personally, it's hard to get through a season with everything we've been through without things like that, without people being there when you need them. It's not just the players, it's the staff, too. It's just been a huge collective effort and it’s finally come to fruition."
I think summer’s going to be fun because there's not going to be much of a let off. Obviously, we'll celebrate now, but I'm already excited to be doing pre-season preparing ourselves for what's next is unbelievable.Ashleigh Plumptre LCFC TV
Plumptre and her team-mates can now look into the future with excitement as they prepare to contest a debut season in the top tier of English women's football against some of the best teams and players in world football.
"It's going to be a big step up, but one that we’re all really excited for," she continued. "I think summer’s going to be fun because there's not going to be much of a let off. Obviously, we'll celebrate now, but I'm already excited to be doing pre-season preparing ourselves for what's next is unbelievable.
"I think we get to play against some of the best players in the world and I just come back to Leicester, like we're such a small city, and to think we're almost, hopefully, following in the men's footsteps maybe at some point.
"We’ll be striving for just winning more trophies. Like I said, we don't play just to play, we play to win, so hopefully that's to come when we go up."
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