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RACHEL IS FIRST SOCCER GIRL SET FOR pounds 1MILLION.

SHE may not yet command the same wage packet as David Beckham or Michael Owen, but teenager Rachel Brown is on her way to becoming the first Englishwoman to bank pounds 1million from soccer.

England women's team goalkeeper Rachel, 19, last week became the country's first girl player to sign a sponsorship deal with a major sports brand. The two-year contract, said to be worth pounds 100,000, is with German giants Uhlsport.

Rachel, who studies at the University of Alabama in America, is now tipped to become the first English import to hit the big-time.

Rachel, from Burnley, Lancs, said: "Unfortunately, if you take the game seriously and want support you have to look outside England at the moment.

"There are no restrictions to hold you back in America because the women's game is so popular."AE

Rachel made her name as goalkeeper with Liverpool Ladies, winning the Ladies FA Cup Final when she was just 15.

But she had to move to the US to get the rewards she wants.

She said: "We are not going to change the attitude in England overnight.

"Women don't get the same financial backing as other countries because the men's game is so big.

"The women's sport is frowned upon, it's seen as a bit of a joke."

Rachel, whose parents and two brothers still live in Burnley, plays for her university team - and is hoping to join the US women's professional league when it is launched next year. A minimum wage of pounds 125,000 a season has been agreed but players will be able to negotiate their own contracts.

With endorsements and TV deals, Rachel could be on her way to her first pounds 1million within a year.

Star American women players, such as striker Mia Hamm, already earn more from sponsorship than David Beckham, Michael Owen or Alan Shearer.

Rachel said: "I would like nothing more than to see English women's football take off the same way. But you have to be a realist."

"You develop a thick skin and you get on with it.

"Out in America they just don't have the same mentality."
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Author:Smith, Paul
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 20, 2000
Words:356
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