England history-maker Rachel Yankey’s debt of thanks to Norwich City boss Chris Hughton

England and Team GB footballer Rachel Yankey, right, is line to break Peter Shilton's record number

England and Team GB footballer Rachel Yankey, right, is line to break Peter Shilton's record number of caps for the Three Lions. City boss Chris Hughton has spoken in glowing terms about Yankey's achievements in the women's game. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Norwich City boss Chris Hughton's touching tribute to England's most-capped women's international Rachel Yankey left the Gunners' midfielder speechless.

Yankey will break Peter Shilton's all-time appearance record for the Three Lions if she features in a friendly against Japan on Wednesday at Burton after earning her 125th cap earlier this year.

The 33-year-old Arsenal player revealed Hughton had taken time out from the Canaries' successful fight for Premier League survival to congratulate Yankey on her landmark feat.

'He wrote me a lovely letter,' she said. 'I had spoken to him before at an event – I can't even remember where it was and it wasn't for very long - so I was overwhelmed and I was genuinely speechless when the letter arrived. He sent one to St George's Park and one to Arsenal to make sure I got it. He congratulated me on my achievement in getting 125 caps and told me I was a credit to the game and that what I had done for women's football was unbelievable.

'I got to meet him when I played in a charity game and he was the manager and I thanked him. He was a really classy, inspiring guy. I was overwhelmed and I was genuinely speechless when the letter arrived.'

Yankey will have a key role in England's assault on the women's European Championships this summer in Sweden, but reaching her personal milestone will be a special occasion.

'It is a little bit weird to think I am going to set a new record,' she said. 'It is massive for me to be even in the same sort of bracket as a legend like Peter Shilton and others like David Beckham, Ashley Cole, Steven Gerrard, Bobby Charlton and Bobby Moore, who all have over 100 caps. It's staggering.

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'I feel proud of myself and I know my family and friends do, too, although they don't say it all the time. I do get recognised quite a lot because people are now more aware of the women's game, with the Olympics and the Super League and matches being on the television.

'Most people who come up and talk say how much they enjoy watching us because it's like how the game used to be and there is no rolling around and diving and everyone tries to be honest.'