England captain Steph Houghton and husband Stephen Darby face bigger fight off pitch

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There are few moments in the career of an international footballer that bring more pressure than performing at a World Cup when your country is among the favourites to lift the trophy.

But for the captain of England’s Lionesses there will be a powerful reminder in the stands at this year’s tournament that win or lose, there is more to life than the beautiful game.

Steph Houghton will be cheered on by her husband Stephen Darby, who was forced to leave behind his own football career after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease last year. 

Despite his illness, he is expected to make the journey to France to support his wife as the World Cup begins on Friday.

Darby, 30, was diagnosed just months after the couples’ wedding last June, stepping down as a right-back for Bolton in September.  Houghton has said that while her husband’s illness isn’t a distraction on the pitch, he is her “number one priority”. 



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