Nikita was born in Toxteth, in inner-city Liverpool, and takes immense pride in her local roots.
Growing up in a football crazy region meant that Nikita was a keen Liverpool Football Club (LFC) fan and began playing the sport herself at around just 6-years-old.
Like many girls, there were limited grassroots options for her to play in girls’ squads, so she played in boys’ teams until she created her own squad, Kingsley United.
“I started a football team myself at the age of 11 because I wanted to have a women’s team in the local community. So, I gathered all my friends and family and everyone I knew... and we were successful. We won the league.”
Despite being a big LFC fan, it was at Everton Football Club (EFC) that she would build the foundations of her professional sporting career, being picked up by the team as a teenager. She worked her way through the ranks at Everton and was already a fixture on the senior scene at the age of just 16, after making her professional debut against Arsenal in May 2010.
It was not long after this that Nikita’s links with LJMU began as she was picked up by the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) and supported by coaches and sports scientists at LJMU as part of our partnership with the EFC.
“I remember her arriving at LJMU as part of the TASS scheme at 17-years-old as an Everton youth player. Nikita had not thought about going to university until she had attended her strength and conditioning sessions at LJMU, which triggered her interest in university life, while playing professional football. Fast forward three years and she graduated, while progressing in her football career and is now a household name in the football world.”
– Dave McDermott, Head of Elite Sport and Athlete Management
Nikita completed her degree in sport development, graduating in 2018, having been supported during her studies under a Sports Scholarship that allowed her the flexibility to continue to play professionally alongside being a student.
During her studies, Nikita also made her debut for England and has since gone on to represent the nation at international competitions. With the Lionesses she has played an instrumental role in them reaching the semi-finals of the Euro 2017 and securing a fantastic fourth place in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. She scored six goals during the World Cup qualifier which ensured England’s participation. Parris also helped England win the SheBelieves Cup in 2019 and was part of the Euro winning squad in 2022.
She moved from Everton in 2015 to Manchester City. During her time with City, Nikita won the Women’s Super League, two League Cups and two FA Cups, as well as becoming the league’s all-time top scorer. Then followed stints at Olympique Lyonnais in France before returning to the UK with Arsenal and then signing for Manchester United in 2022 after the Euro’s success.
Nikita’s talents also go way beyond the confines of football stadiums, as she is keen to give back to her community.
In 2020, she started the NP17 Football Academy. This initiative gives Liverpool students a chance to shine in sports, by offering sports qualifications and opportunities to young athletes. Her academy has support from Puma, Liverpool City Council, and the City of Liverpool College.
“That community gave me life and gave me an opportunity – that's what I want to do for these girls. I want to give them an opportunity to be successful in whatever they choose. Within inner-city areas, there's always good and bad. You've got to be in and around the right people.”
In September 2023, LJMU was delighted to include Nikita as one of ten new honorary fellows, announced to celebrate our 200th anniversary, with the fellows being bestowed the honour for their inspirational achievements and role model status in the wider community.