Kimberley Turner is one of those lucky people.
As soon as she had done what she did, her place in history was secure forever.
But she didn’t understand just how significant it would prove to be at the time.
As one of just a few players who straddled the millennia and also therefore the different eras of Northern Ireland women’s international football, the 20-year-old was simply overjoyed at scoring for her country when she netted against Wales at the Algarve Cup back in 2004 and put her country back on the scene.
Now as some of her former team-mates brace for the biggest moment of their footballing lives at the Women’s Euro 2022 finals, Turner is backing them to write their names further into folklore by shocking the continent.
Turner’s strike in Portugal was the only goal that Northern Ireland scored, but it had a double impact, giving the team something to cling to after three defeats while also providing the group with belief that they could drive forward and compete after a decision four years earlier to discontinue funding for the senior international team.
That’s where Turner was fortunate as her age meant that it didn’t have as serious an impact on her as it did for those who never played again, as thankfully what funds were available were invested in the underage levels – and the squad that will take to the field in the Women’s Euro 2022 finals is still benefiting from that almost 20 years on.
“I remember playing for the senior team in a friendly against the Republic of Ireland in Dublin, I was only 15 or 16-years-old at the time,” recalled Turner.
“I was very, very young to be playing international football and although I played in that game I never even thought about the senior team because we were so invested in the Under-14s and there was money going into that.
“Julie Nelson and Danielle McDowell were in that group and we were the first ones who were brought through the ranks.
“At that stage you didn’t really think about the bigger picture, we were just playing and hoping to make the next step up to the Under-15, Under-17 and Under-19 levels, and the fact that the senior team had been dropped wasn’t a factor because the younger age groups were running and we were playing at that level.
“When the time came I jumped from Under-17 to senior level and there were a lot who did that after me, but to become the first real competing women’s international team is definitely something I am really proud of.”
Now aged 37 and 10 years on from when she won the last of her 46 caps, the former pocket-sized midfielder can look back on many other moments with pride throughout a club career taking her to America, Iceland and then England, where she played professionally at Manchester City and Blackburn Rovers.
Nothing will ever make her more proud though than the fact that she scored Northern Ireland’s first goal of the 2000s – albeit four years in – and the first of a new era.
An era that is just about to reach a whole new level.
“I remember the goal very clearly. It was one of the best goals I ever scored and my mum and dad came out to watch us play, which made it a bit more special for me,” said Turner.
“It was a corner from the left, Gail Redmond (nee Macklin) was in the six-yard box with her back to goal and she chested it down, and I remember shouting ‘set it, set it’.
“She set it out to me on the edge of the area, just at the ‘D’ and I actually hit it with the outside of my right foot and it bent round outside the post and into the top left-hand corner.
“It was an unreal feeling to score. It didn’t dawn on me at the time that the goal was significant in any way, but now I am actually really, really proud of it because I sacrificed so much and at that time I did it all just to play for Northern Ireland.”
Her graduation ceremony from university in the USA was one of the things Turner gave up, instead paying her own way to fly across so that she could play against England. It was the return game, however, that gave her the biggest eye-opener in terms of the different level Northern Ireland were on.
“I remember the game at home to England, I am still friends with Fara Williams and she knocked on the door to swap shirts. I had to go back into the changing room and ask if I could swap my shirt and I was told no. I had to go back and apologise to her,” Turner explained.
Things have changed so much that the team will step onto the pitch against Norway on Thursday night wearing their own bespoke kit and not the same shirt their male counterparts play in.
The goal is to make that outfit iconic by putting their stamp on the finals, just like Northern Ireland’s men’s team did at the Euro 2016 finals in France.
“It’s very similar to when the men went to France. They don’t have to make anyone proud, because the whole country already is,” said Turner.
“I think they just have to go out and give a good account of themselves, absolutely enjoy it, give it a good go and who knows – you might just get a big lucky header like Gareth McAuley at the back post (against Ukraine at the Euro 2016 finals) and the whole place will erupt.”
A goal at the finals would indeed be celebrated by many more people than who savoured Turner’s strike, but without the first goal the next one might never have arrived at all.