Erin Doherty said she could have been part of the England team that won the Women’s Euros over the summer if she had made a different choice in her youth.
The 30-year-old actress, who played the Princess Royal on Netflix series The Crown and starred last year in the BBC psychological thriller Chloe, said she was “scouted” to play for Chelsea when she was playing for Crawley Wasps.
When asked by Dermot O’Leary on BBC Radio 2 on Saturday about whether she knew any of the Lionesses while playing football, Doherty said: “I think it could have been me.”
She said her father told her he would either drive her to play football or to her stage school, so she chose the entertainment industry instead.
Doherty added: “It’s a bit surreal to think that I could have maybe been a part of that.”
She also spoke about how Anne, the King’s sister, is important to “women of our generation”.
While playing the royal, Doherty said: “I fell in love with her, I knew nothing about her when the phone call came.
“And so I was like, Okay, ‘who’s this woman?’ And like I say, ‘I’m not a royalist or anything’. Like they’re just kind of there, they’ve always been there in the background.
“She’s just knows her own mind, and she’s not afraid to be honest.”
She added: “I want to put this woman on screen for women of our generation, if anything. I think it’s really important to show powerful, strong, independent (women).”
Doherty is currently taking to the stage as Abigail in The Crucible, an Arthur Miller play about the Salem witch trials, at the National Theatre, which will also be broadcast at selected cinemas on January 26.
Talking about the adaption, she said: “It was just about, like the dangers that arise when a group of people believe that they have to be right and that’s why it was also so important, I think to tell it now.
“It leans on so many aspects that we’re grappling with at the minute, like a lot of stuff based around social media and cancel culture.”
Doherty also spoke about her upcoming projects including Reawakening, which also stars Truly, Madly, Deeply’s Juliet Stevenson and Jared Harris, who also starred in The Crown as George VI.
She will also star in Firebrand as poet Anne Askew, who was burned at the stake as a heretic during the reign of Henry VIII – who will be played by Jude Law.