When Ellen White nipped in to a petrol station, a member of staff clocked her Manchester City tracksuit and asked whether she was a fan.
Ellen is not only a forward for the club’s women’s team but a world-class striker who has scored 50 goals for England’s Lionesses and has played at the Olympics.
She is expected to be a star player in next week’s UEFA Women’s Euros, Ellen’s third.
But she wasn’t offended by the garage worker’s blunder.
She has had decades of being underestimated – and patronised.
She says: “A lot of people on social media say I need to stop playing football because I should be in the kitchen cooking and cleaning.
“My husband does all the cooking so I respond by saying it doesn’t really work like that in my household.
“Some people tell me to pick a more feminine sport because football’s a man’s game. Over the years, you grow a thick skin.”
And as a leading light in this defining era of women’s football, she is aware the eyes of the next generation’s players are on her.
She is often sent pictures and videos of kids copying her goal celebration, circling their fingers around their eyes. The move is borrowed from Cologne striker Anthony Modeste.
Ellen, 33, says: “When we returned from the World Cup in 2019, I had people running down the supermarket doing my celebration. So it was very weird and very sweet.
“And I’ve seen lots of pictures of little kids doing it too. I say mine but it’s Modeste’s. I feel very honoured and it’s amazing to be involved in football at this time and to have a small contribution.”
She’s too modest to say it but Ellen’s contribution has not been small. The rocketing numbers of female footballers say it all.
“I went to my local primary school recently. When I started there were no girls’ football teams and I was part of the boys’ team.
“They really took me under their wing.
“Now there were 24 girls playing football and I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is blowing my mind’.
It made me really excited and a little bit emotional.
“So many girls want to play sport and play football now. So I can see that change – and there’s loads more to do.”
Ellen was eight and playing at her father Jon’s football academy in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, when she was spotted by an Arsenal academy scout.
As her career took off, she needed extra help towards winning professional contracts with Chelsea, Leeds United, Notts County, Birmingham City and Arsenal, then Manchester City.
“The National Lottery contributed massively to me being able to get to those early training sessions,” says Ellen.
“It was a two-hour journey to the Arsenal academy three times a week. The funding helped with travel expenses and also my strength and conditioning training sessions.
“It really helps when young people, who might not have the opportunity, are able to access and play sport so they can enjoy the amazing feeling of taking part.”
Thanks to National Lottery players, more than £50million has been raised for women’s football in the past 10 years.
Ellen has always been a hard worker. As a teenager, she was the first in and last out of training. Coaches had to tell her to relax a little sometimes.
Though a hard worker, Ellen does have some guilty pleasures: coffee, chocolate and ice cream.
But to the ultimate professional who once abstained from such treats, that represents progress.
She says: “Over the years I’ve had to change and evolve because I was a lot stricter. I wouldn’t have chocolate or crisps or anything.
“As I got older I realise if I’ve trained really hard, I can have things and it’s not going to affect my training.”
As for the often-made comparisons between men’s and women’s football, Ellen would like them to stop.
She says: “It’s completely different. I can easily hold my hands up and say men are fitter, faster, stronger. It’s genetics. My husband is stronger than me and I’m not going to beat him in a race.
“But in women’s football… we’ll give everything in hard work and you can see that in the way we play. So it is a different sport and we won’t want to be compared.”
Speaking of her husband Callum Convery, Ellen says of their home life: “We have two cats and I’m boring.
“We like to watch films and I’m a crier – I watched the last episode of Ted Lasso and cried.”