At 19 years old, Manchester City’s Khiara Keating has already overtaken a number of experienced internationals to become her club’s first-choice keeper.
Keating will now look to become the Lionesses’ first ever senior mixed-race goalkeeper.
Sarina Wiegman handed the teenager her first senior call-up after some standout displays for Manchester City, including during their controversial 1-1 draw against Chelsea when Keating was crucial to them retaining a point after they were reduced to nine players.
And while England No.1 Mary Earps is expected to start ahead of the youngster in goal for their double-header against Belgium, Keating will be hoping that this call-up will mark only the start of her long international career.
Becky Spencer is the only other mixed-race keeper to have even been called up to England Women’s senior squad and she spoke to talkSPORT about what it was like breaking barriers with the Jamaican national team at the Women’s World Cup.
Alongside Keating and Spencer, there are only two other goalkeepers of colour have been called up to a senior England team: David James and Shaka Hislop, with only the former managing a full cap, earning 53.
Keating admitted that getting her first call-up was a significant step forward, not just for her.
She said: “Obviously I think it’s important for anyone to make their debut but obviously coming from a background of colour, there’s not many of us. I think we are starting to see a rise and I’m just happy that I could be an inspiration.
“Anyone out there that’s thinking ‘maybe I will get judged’ or ‘maybe it’s not for me’, but yeah, I feel like I’m just grateful to be in a position where I can be a role model to people.”
Talking to talkSPORT’s Women’s Football Show after Keating’s standout performance against Chelsea, The Times’ Football Writer Molly Hudson heaped praise upon the teenager’s talent.
“I was so, so impressed with her,” she said. “She’s keeping Ellie Roebuck and Sandy McIver, two England international goalkeepers, out of that team at 19 years old!”
Roebuck, 24, may have 93 appearances for Manchester City and 11 for England but she now looks to be second-choice to Keating for both club and country.
Meanwhile, their teammate Sandy MacIver recently took the the decision to switch her international allegiance from England to Scotland having picked up just a single England appearance.
Hudson added: “(Keating’s) just fantastic and I think anybody watching her, any young black girls watching her will have thought ‘Wow. I want to be like her – she’s cool!’
“And that’s what we want to see more of.”
Keating’s call-up comes as Arsenal Women released a statement admitting their first-team showed a lack of diversity.
They faced huge backlash as their team photo featured an entirely white squad.
Their statement read: “Across all our teams, including our men’s and women’s academies, we’re proud of our players from diverse backgrounds who have contributed to our history, success and culture.
“It’s a priority for the club to continue to drive greater diversity and inclusion and create a sense of belonging for everyone connected to the club.”
England currently sit third in their in their Women’s Nations League group after a win over Scotland and a defeat to the Netherlands in the first two matches.
Their opponents Belgium currently sit top of the group.
But England know that they must win their group in order to give themselves any chance of Olympic qualification and two wins over Belgium would give them a much-needed boost.
England vs Belgium will be live on talkSPORT 2 on Friday 27 October from 7:45pm.