As someone used to balancing part-time work as a teaching assistant with her footballing exploits, Aston Villa striker Mel Johnson is no stranger to life in the fast lane.
Perhaps then, it is no surprise that the 28-year-old has taken to the biggest year of her career so far with ease – firing Gemma Davies’ side to the top of the FA Women’s Championship with 11 goals in 11 appearances.
Johnson works three days a week at High Grange School in Derby where she supports children with autism but it is on the football pitch where she is truly excelling right now having committed more of her time to the game following a summer move from Leicester City.
And while at the end of the last campaign this may have been seen as a sideways move, from seventh-placed Leicester to sixth-placed Villa, it is to the credit of Johnson in particular that the Villains are flying so high.
“I try not to get too ahead of myself but it has been a really good start to the season,” Johnson said.
“I’m really happy with the way the season has gone for us as a group as well as for myself. I always set out to achieve my own personal goals as well so I’m pleased.
“I think the extra days are really helping. The level of coaching I’m receiving now is incredible, all the coaches here are great and they just get my style of play.
“I’m enjoying myself and that helps, when I’m enjoying it I play better football.
“We’ve got a great group of girls here who are good players individually and we’re starting to play well together now, it’s looking really good.”
Johnson, who sits joint top of the Championship goalscoring charts alongside Sheffield United’s Katie Wilkinson, has been in utterly prolific form this season and her feats have included two hat-tricks as well as winning the Player of the Month award for August.
These performances, both on an individual and team level, have bred huge confidence in the forward who believes that her side will take some stopping thanks to the impact of manager Davies and the success of their pre-season.
She added: “The way the season has gone for us so far, I don’t see a team taking promotion from us.
“But, that’s up to us staying focused and delivering each week like we have been. We’ll never take games for granted but I can definitely see us being in the Super League next season.
“I knew [things would go this well] from pre-season, because it was so good and we went unbeaten as a team even against Super League teams, I felt a good vibe.
“We were linking up really well and scoring great goals in preseason. It was like it was just on from the get-go so I’m not that surprised we’ve played so well.
“Gemma [Davies] has had a massive impact. When I met her at Derby she was someone I’d always go to even though she was only one of my coaches there.
“Gemma is a very unique character and she’s a really nice person, she just gets the team.
“She’s confident with what she delivers and she’s so professional. I give a lot of the credit to her and how she is with us.”