Vyan Sampson: Hearts defender on becoming a "leader"; her Arsenal and San Marino experience; and playing for Jamaica at the World Cup
Vyan Sampson’s rich career has helped make her a ‘leader’ at Hearts, the international star who joined the SWPL club in August happy to share what she has learned in England and Italy with her younger teammates.
The 26-year-old defender amassed a great deal of experience at Arsenal, Charlton Athletic, West Ham, London City Lionesses and in Italy at San Marino Academy before her transfer to Edinburgh in the summer. The Jamaican international, who is in he frame to play in next summer’s World Cup, hopes her knowledge can help the younger players as she steps up to be a leader in the dressing room.
“I really think all my experiences until now have really shaped me as a person, especially playing at Hearts with quite a lot of young players”, she told Edinburgh Evening News. “It’s really allowed me to step into a roll of being a leader. Sharing what I’ve learned and using what I see to help not only myself, but the younger players and have us come together and obviously competing well. It’s not a mistake that we are fourth in the table right now.”
Sampson moved in English giants Arsenal when she was just 14 years old. In her seven years at the Gunners, she would go on to win the WSL Cup in 2015 and make four first-team appearances. After a spell at West Ham, in 2020 she left England to seek greener pastures with a move to the San Marino Academy. It was a culture change from the life she had become accustomed to in London. Sampson believes her journey has helped her as a player and a person.
“I started my career off at Charlton and I moved to Arsenal when I was 14”, she explained. “That was really good because in the academy you learn so much. From quite a young age you are getting prepped to play in the first team, your training sessions are modelled off what they do. So, I learned a lot from quite a young age, and I think I have been able to take that into my senior football.
“The style of football at San Marino was quite different. Being a club that was newly promoted, San Marino Academy struggled to compete with the likes of AC Milan and Juventus, so as a group we had to learn a lot. In terms of the lifestyle, it was very different to being home in London.
“I played for San Marino Academy, which was about 20 minutes from where I lived in Italy. It was very different, different culture, a different language, so that was a learning curve, but it was something I enjoyed. I love learning about different countries and cultures and interacting with people who aren’t like me. That’s a valuable learning experience in my career.”
Sampson represented England at Under-17 and Under-19 level, but also qualifies for Jamaica and has plenty to look forward to for her national team. Jamaica face Brazil and France in their World Cup group in New Zealand and Australia in 2023 after qualifying for consecutive tournaments.
“It’s been a really pleasant experience,” he explained. “I’ve gone to places I never would have if I wasn’t play for Jamacia. I’m really enjoying it the players are amazing. We worked really hard to qualify for our second consecutive World Cup. We are using all of our international windows to prepare for that and hopefully when the World Cup rolls round, we will be ready and raring to go.”
Young Hearts players may well benefit from that too.