Tyler Dodds: From The North-East Of England To The South of Italy

Tyler Dodds swapped life at Middlesbrough in the FA Women’s National League Northern Premier to take up a professional contract at Serie B Italian side Pomigliano in the midst of a global pandemic. Ben Gilby spoke to Tyler to find out how it all came about and what life is like near Naples.

“I love football and have been playing since the age of four years old.”

Above: Tyler Dodds (maroon shirt) in action for Pomigliano this season. Photo: Luca Bottaro.

Speaking to Tyler Dodds it is so obvious just how important the game is to her. “I only really went to college and university just to keep playing at a high level and ended up with a BSc & MSc as well as representing England and Great Britain,” she says.

Yet, it’s not just about football with Tyler –  “I also love to sing, which makes sense coming from a family of singers” – more about that later!

“I started playing football when I was four years old and played for boys team until I was ten when I had to join a girls team. Shortly after I got selected for Sunderland where I’ve spent most of my career. In that time I’ve played for Gateshead College then Northumbria University winning many league and cup titles. During this time I was selected for England (u19’s-u21’s) and the World University Games in Taipei 2017 representing Great Britain. I had a season at Durham Women FC before returning to Sunderland AFC Ladies and then went to Middlesbrough Woman FC where I spent three years. I’m currently out in Italy playing professional football for Pomigliano in Serie B, this opportunity only happened due to Covid.”

Above: Tyler in action for Middlesbrough last season. Photo: Matthew Appleby.

Tyler played level three football for three years at Middlesbrough where she was very much at home. “I’ve loved my time at Middlesbrough, the staff and the girls are all amazing. I’m the type of player that needs to feel appreciated in order to play well and Boro were constantly being positive and helping me to improve. It’s a club that will definitely go places in the future as they have a great backbone of staff wanting to better the club. In my time at Boro, I was actually the top goal scorer for two years in a row and I was hoping to make it a third this season before the move to Pomigliano.”

So how did a player in tier three receive the offer of a pro contract with a Serie B club in Italy?

“I had an offer to play abroad and within a week I was gone. If it wasn’t for Covid ruining my normal job all year having no income, and the constant lockdowns postponing matches, then I would have stayed for sure. But due to Covid, my 2020 was not normal in the slightest and playing football abroad and getting paid for it seemed like the most sensible but scary decision, plus I’d always wanted to be just a footballer, a childhood dream. It was a really tough decision to leave Middlesbrough though as the staff and girls are honestly so great!”

Tyler then explained just what life is like in Southern Italy with Pomigliano both on and off the pitch.

“It was certainly a shock leaving all of your home comforts behind, and coming to a team where just three people speak English. Thankfully the girls I live with are lovely and have helped with my Italian, I can now count to twenty. So far I have really enjoyed the experience, getting to play football six days of the week is great!”

Above: Tyler pictured when unveiled as a Pomigliano player. Photo: Luca Bottaro.

“The matches have been challenging but I feel confident enough that we can continue getting points and still aim for promotion to Serie A.”

I asked Tyler just how hard going to play in another country in the middle of the pandemic with associated travel restrictions in place between Italy and the UK. “If it wasn’t for Covid I would have never plucked up the courage to go and play football abroad. But I’m very big on Christmas and I was meant to go back home after ten days in Italy, however due to Boris announcing more variants a couple of days before I was due to fly home, all of the flights were cancelled and I haven’t been home since. My family and friends do say that I’m better over here playing football rather than risking catching Covid back home with the numbers being so high.”

In terms of Tyler’s own footballing heroes, there’s only one: “I look up to Kelly Smith so much, she was my idol as a kid growing up playing football and I wanted to be just like her. She scored goals for fun, had memorable celebrations and was needed on the pitch.”

We closed by discussing Tyler’s career goals: “My forever goal would be to make it into the England women’s senior team. It’s every girl’s dream to play at the highest level possible and it might sound silly but I’m not going to stop dreaming.”

Yet it is not just football that plays a big part in Tyler’s life – singing does too. “So, if the world was normal, I would be a professional singer alongside a footballer. Unfortunately both require the weekend so it’s difficult trying to balance the two, but I love football and singing so much. Normally meaning I have a very busy life with an even busier weekend, full of travelling to both gigs and matches with not much sleep but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Having two passions is a blessing, as without Covid ruining my singing career for the time being, I have been able to pursue football.”

Tyler Dodds is one young woman well worth following – there’s every reason to believe that not only will she make a real name for herself as a professional footballer, but also become a singing star too.

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