Pompey Hall of Fame: Gemma Hillier
Gemma Hillier is to be inducted into Pompey's Hall of Fame on Friday night.
We are taking a daily look at each of the five players scheduled to be recognised at the Fratton Park ceremony.
Hillier made her Pompey Ladies debut at the age of 14 – and went on to register 293 appearances and 99 goals for her beloved home-town club.
Born in 1987, she started playing football at primary school in Gosport but had to represent the boys’ team.
After joining Gosport Borough Ladies, at the age of 12 she was offered the choice to join either the Fulham centre of excellence or Southampton – she chose Fulham.
But it was at Pompey where she made her name during an outstanding 17-year spell, of which eight seasons were proudly served as captain.
It was a period in which she competed at the highest level in women’s football, featuring in the FA Women’s Premier League and the Southern Premier League, while also claiming the Hampshire County Cup on 15 occasions.
During her time with Portsmouth Ladies, Hillier was offered the chance to join most of the top-league clubs in financially-rewarding deals, but she remained loyal to Pompey, where she never received payment.
Away from football, she studied at the University of Portsmouth and is currently a PE teacher at Fareham Academy.
Her great love is Pompey, where she has been a season-ticket holder since the age of six and travelled all over the country watching her beloved Blues.
In the club’s first Premier League season in 2003-04, Hillier went home and away to cheer on Harry Redknapp’s side, in addition to subsequent visits to Wembley.
It was with a heavy heart in November that she retired from representing Portsmouth Ladies to concentrate on her blossoming beach soccer career.
While playing for England Ladies in Portugal last summer, she won the European Beach Soccer League and received the golden boot in recognition of being the tournament’s top scorer.
England beat European champions Spain 6-1 in the semi-final, followed by a 4-3 win against Switzerland in the final, with the striker scoring the winning goal.
Hillier wore the star and crescent with tremendous passion, and remains the top goalscorer in the club’s history.
Her loyalty to Pompey Ladies has been unsurpassed and she is regarded as a fantastic role model for any young footballer – not just female players.