Ashleigh Plumptre, born on 8 May 1998 in Leicester, is a professional footballer who currently represents the Nigeria national team, the Super Falcons which today play ousted Ireland in the last group game of the ongoing FIFA Women World Cup.
The Super Falcons defender recently decided to part ways with English Super League side Leicester City. The departure of Plumptre was officially announced by the Foxes in a statement confirming that the talented defender left the club after her contract expired at the King Power Stadium.
With a diverse background and a passion for the sport, Plumptre has made a name for herself in the footballing world.
Growing up in Melton Mowbray, Plumptre attended primary school there. Her journey in football began at the age of four when she joined Asfordby Amateurs.
Recognising her talent and dedication, she joined the Leicester City Centre of Excellence at the age of eight and spent seven years with the club, progressing from under-10 to under-15 level.
In 2013, she made a move to Birmingham City’s under-17 team, where she had the opportunity to train with the senior WSL 1 team. During that time, she briefly joined Derby County’s Centre of Excellence, a third-tier FA Women’s Premier League side.
Growing up in Melton Mowbray, a short 30-minute drive from the city, Plumptre’s affinity for football led her to join Leicester City’s centre of excellence at a young age.
From the age of eight to 14, she honed her skills within the club’s youth system, having already started playing for a local girls’ team a few years prior.
Reflecting on her childhood, Plumptre describes herself as a child who always craved physical activity.
After returning home from school, she would promptly drop off her bags and head outside to play football until her mother called her in for dinner.
This unwavering dedication to the sport was a testament to her passion and drive, even at a young age.
“I was one of those kids that just always wanted to be active,” Plumptre said.
Although she temporarily left Leicester City during her teenage years, fate would bring her back to the club where she would eventually sign her first professional contract.
“[It] meant a lot to me to sign for Leicester because it was the club I’ve always supported and I grew up here,” she divulged.
In pursuit of her dreams, Plumptre moved to the United States in 2016 to pursue a scholarship at the University of Southern California.
There, she majored in human biology and also played for the university’s football team. In her first year, the team won the National Championship and were even invited to the White House to celebrate their achievement.
“It influenced so many things in my life, and not just football, I found out more about myself, what I’m passionate about,” she reflected.
Ashleigh Plumptre comes from a mixed heritage. Her father is of Nigerian descent, specifically from Lagos State, and belongs to the Yoruba tribe. Her mother is English.
‘’My grandfather from dad’s side is a Nigerian from Lagos state. He is of Yoruba descent. My younger sister Bayleigh, is called by Yoruba name, Bisi. She is a drummer.
Plumptre’s connection to her Nigerian roots played a significant role in her decision to represent the Nigeria national team.
She spoke about her purpose and how it has evolved over time, emphasising her desire to delve into her heritage and represent the people she is familiar with.
Plumptre values the impact she can have as both a player and an individual, bringing her jovial and free-spirited personality to the game while also embracing her physical side, which she refers to as her “Nigerian side.”
“As much as I love playing football, I like to play for a purpose and a reason. I know the impact I can have by delving into my heritage more and representing the people I am always familiar with”.
Plumptre began exploring her Nigerian heritage during the COVID-19 lockdowns. Discussing her background with her sister, who identifies as black while Plumptre identifies as mixed heritage, she felt compelled to connect with her roots.
“Even though we have the same dad, we both have a Nigerian dad and a white mum, she looks a little different to me and has experienced things in school that I never had,” she says. “Most people just assume that I’m white. I identify as being mixed heritage. But my sister … she identifies as being black.”
As a result, Plumptre switched her international allegiance from England to Nigeria, aiming to experience the culture and educate her sister about their heritage.
She says: “That’s where I’m like: ‘OK, Nigeria would be good for me to do because then I can experience the culture more, I can come back and teach her about our heritage. That was the trigger for me.”
“I love the culture, I honestly love everything about being in Nigeria,” she says. She has also “realised how lucky I’ve been to just have been born in this country, the opportunities that I’ve been blessed with”. She adds: “My Nigerian teammates, for example, they’ve worked so hard but sometimes they don’t get the same opportunities based upon the teams that they’re playing in, the lack of exposure that they have. It’s a privilege to play with them.”
Throughout her career, Plumptre has achieved several notable honours. While playing for Notts County, she was a Women’s FA Cup runner-up in 2015 and a FA Women’s League Cup runner-up in the same year.
During her time at the University of Southern California, she won the NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championship in 2016.
In 2019, with LA Galaxy OC, Plumptre claimed the UWS Championship. More recently, she contributed to Leicester City’s success, helping them win the FA Women’s Championship in the 2020-21 season.
With her impressive performances on the field and her dedication to making a difference both as a player and as an individual, Ashleigh Megan Plumptre has become a highly respected figure in the world of women’s football.
Her net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, primarily derived from her appearances as a professional footballer.
As she continues to make strides in her career, Plumptre’s impact both on and off the field .is sure to leave a lasting legacy.