Dan Turner: Aston Villa defender on leaving Everton and new position

After spending 15 years of her career at Everton, Dan Turner admits she had become “part of the furniture” at the club.

Taking the decision to leave last summer for a role at Aston Villa was far from an easy choice, yet so far the move is paying off.

The former Blues captain has not only established herself as one of Villa’s standout performers this season, she has done so in a new position – and she is relishing the challenge of proving herself again.

“It gives you a bit of extra incentive to take a step further,” the 31-year-old defender tells BBC Sport.

Turner grew up playing football with her older brother in their garden in Warrington and it was not long before she was scouted by Manchester United’s girls’ academy.

She joined Everton at the age of 15 and began a successful career in Merseyside, including a short loan spell with Icelandic team Stjarnan.

While at the Toffees, Turner was part of the squad that won promotion to the WSL in 2017 and later started at Wembley in an FA Cup final defeat by Manchester City in 2020.

But, while in discussions over a contract extension last summer, Turner felt it was “time for a change”.

“It goes without saying it was the most difficult decision of my career. I absolutely loved playing for Everton and I was there for half of my life,” she says.

“I think it was the right time for a change, to challenge myself and get a new lease of life. I wanted to go somewhere I maybe wasn’t so comfortable.”

There was interest from several clubs but a phone call from Villa manager Carla Ward convinced Turner it was the right move.

“I knew her and had played against her previously so it really sparked my interest quite quickly and threw a spanner in the works.

“I was still having talks with Everton and was interested in staying but after the talk with Carla, it really kind of made the decision for me. It was what I wanted to do.”

What Turner perhaps did not expect was to be thrown into a new position, having only just switched clubs.

The former full-back is now starting WSL games at centre-back after a few injuries opened the door earlier in the season.

“It was actually a real positive for me. Carla showed a lot of faith in me. It’s a role that I’m really enjoying and I think it suits me as a player,” said Turner.

“The confidence I’ve got from my performances in the first half of the season have just made it really easy to settle.

“It feels like I’ve been here for a lot longer than six months. I’m loving every minute of it.”

Turner has started every WSL game since joining Villa and Ward has singled her out as a contender for the England squad.

“Everyone keeps saying I missed a trick moving so late in my career to centre-back – but everything happens for a reason,” added Turner.

“It’s now my preferred position. It might add a couple of years on to my career as well which would be nice.”

Turner’s impressive performances this season have made her a key player for Villa, who sit sixth in the WSL.

Hoping to help the club climb higher up the table, Turner believes there is still more to come from her.

“No matter how old you are, you can always improve,” said Turner.

“I feel like I’m in the form of my career at the moment. I’m still learning as a centre-back for sure but I’m growing into it with each game. You can see that in the performances.”

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