Much like her team’s UEFA Women’s Champions League run, Paris FC midfielder Daphne Corboz’s professional soccer journey has been an unlikely and tumultuous one. So when asked to pick a favorite memory from her career, she struggles with an answer.
“It’s hard to say,” Corboz said in an interview with The Athletic. “I don’t know if I can pick a specific time.”
She paused, then began to recount some of the highlights.
In the year There was the moment in 2016 when she and Manchester City beat defending champions Chelsea to win their first Women’s Super League title. Corbose was a rookie out of Georgetown University enjoying her first professional contract.
or In 2017, Corboz netted four goals for her hometown club Sky Blue FC and teammate Sam Kerr against the Seattle Reign – one of which was assisted by Corboz. He helped the Sky Blue to an impressive victory and set the still-standing NWSL record for most goals scored by a player in a single game.
But lately, there’s been another season of Paris FC.
So far, the Parisian team has had an unblemished record in Division 1 Feminine competition, going 7-0-1 on the year. The club’s only loss was 6-1 at Lyon earlier this month. The team bounced back a week later with a 6-0 win at Saint-Etienne and are currently second in the French top division behind Lyon.
Paris FC surprisingly knocked out Arsenal and Wolfsburg in the Champions League earlier this year.
“We’re definitely underdogs. Taking out the semifinalists and finalists last year puts a little pressure on you,” Corbose said. But I think we got those results because we were really a collective class. … Our strength must go forward.
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Despite losing 2-1 to Swedish club Haken in the opening group game at Stade Charleti, Corboz and Paris F.C. Emma Hayes
Although she has now amassed an impressive European career, playing professionally wasn’t even part of Corboz’s plan. According to her former coach Dave Nolan, the New Jersey native has her heart set on attending Princeton University and becoming a doctor.
Nolan, the longtime head coach of Georgetown University’s women’s soccer team, remembers having to convince Corboz that Georgetown was the right fit.
“Somehow I convinced her that the soccer opportunities here will help her continue her dream of playing as long as she can,” he said. “So once she got to college and started seeing that she was one of the best players in the country, I think the light bulb went off.”
Every decision Corboz makes in her soccer career is careful and well thought out, with her academic mind high. After graduating from Georgetown, she was accepted to Rutgers University’s Robert Wood Johnson School of Medicine, when she was offered a pre-contract with Manchester City.
“They flew me and my parents out to visit, and it was like a soccer dream world, surrounded by 15 perfect pitches, and all the (women’s) infrastructure was the same as the men’s infrastructure,” Corboz said. “It was an opportunity I never thought I’d have, and I certainly couldn’t turn it down.”
At first, she delayed her medical school acceptance before making the tough decision to forgo medical school altogether to continue acting. It is Man City where Corbose got a taste. of Championship winning season.
“I couldn’t give up my love for soccer,” Corboz said. She remembers convincing her brother and fiancé that she could always reapply to medical school and take her MATs, but her time for soccer was fleeting. “Football is the only time I can do it now, and if I want to get back into medicine, if I put my mind to it (and) study a lot, hopefully, I can get that opportunity again. “
Corboz continued her studies. While at Man City, she earned a master’s degree in biology. After joining Paris FC, she earned a master’s degree and completed her first year in a doctoral program in biology. Balancing soccer and higher education is difficult, but Paris FC, Corboz said, values the essence of its players.
“Basically, the girls have a philosophy where they play soccer, but they have studies or work — just to have a balance in their lives,” Corboz said. “So that was very attractive to me because that’s what I’ve been living my whole life.”
Corboz joined Paris FC in 2020 and is currently under contract until June 2025. She was part of the first wave of Native American athletes who chose to play in Europe. Notable previous examples include Crystal Dunn, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath. Most recently, Lindsay Horan signed with the Lyons in June after a loan move from the Portland Thorns, and former Notre Dame star and recent USWNT call-up Korbin Albert skipped her remaining college eligibility to sign with Paris Saint-Germain in January.
“I think more and more men’s clubs have grown bigger clubs through the women’s side (in Europe) with their infrastructure and money,” Corboz said. “It attracted a lot of players because of the infrastructure but also because we all grew up watching the Champions League. I think it’s everyone’s dream to play for big clubs and as much as the American League is extremely exciting, playing in the Champions League is another dream.
The move was easy for Corboz, at least logistically, because it is a bilateral country with ties to France. She was born in Alabama to French parents. At the time, her father was completing his graduate work at the University of South Alabama. When Corboz was 4, her family moved to New Jersey, where she and her two siblings grew up.
Her father played soccer semi-professionally in the French third division and his passion for soccer was inherited by Corbose and her younger siblings Mael and Rachel. The three soccer players, now playing professionally in Europe, had to navigate the vast youth system in the United States to parents who were born abroad and had no idea about it.
“My parents, being French, never knew the (soccer) system,” Corboz said with a laugh. She explained how the sport isn’t played by many girls in France, so her father didn’t initially consider signing her up to play. Her father was at her brother’s tournament when he saw several girls playing on a nearby field. He immediately enlisted Corboz.
She eventually found her way to the New Jersey club’s Player Development Academy, which has produced top players such as USWNT goalkeeper Casey Murphy and South Korea’s Casey Fire.
“We’re very fortunate that PDA is a 20-minute drive from us,” Corboz said. “I got to play with one of the best teams in the country and that obviously helps you grow.” It helps that her hometown of Greenbrook, NJ, is a short drive from Rutgers University in Piscataway, where she often goes to watch their women’s team, as well as the Sky Blues. The two teams shared the Yurcak field at the time.
“I used to go to Rutgers games … and watch Carli Lloyd play because I was an attacking midfielder,” Corbose said, “I went to every Sky blue game.”
Once at Georgetown, Corboz was a two-time All-American and was named Big East Midfielder of the Year in 2013. Eventually, her younger sister Rachel committed to Georgetown. The pair overlapped for a season when Daphne was a senior and Rachel was a freshman. It was a rare respite from competing against each other as they did in high school and, just like today in France, Rachel played for Stade de Reims.
Today is the busy days of Corboz. Her mornings include research for Inserm, France’s national health and medical research institute, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. for her doctorate. Then in the afternoon she trains with her club before making the 45-minute drive home to what she calls “the most beautiful city in the world.” The days can be long, but they’re worth it, Corboz says.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love it,” Corbose said. When I think about my life, I’m like, ‘What a dream I never imagined.’
Corbose continues to destroy life by day. She enjoys your research, but still dreams of becoming a doctor. She is on track to complete her doctoral program in 2025, but “will see how things develop.” The thought of retiring or downsizing never crossed her mind.
“As long as I’m having fun, I can’t stop thinking about it,” she said.
(Top photo: Daniella Porcelli/Getty Images)