After a resounding, history-making 2:1 victory against Germany in the 2022 Euros, the Lionesses have continued to inspire the nation in this year’s FIFA World Cup. Women’s football is finally beginning to receive a (small) portion of the attention that has been afforded to men’s football for centuries.
So far, the England squad has won every game they’ve played this tournament. They even won 2:1 against underdogs Colombia, who had already beaten the formidable German team. Today, 16th August 11.00am, England will go up against Australia in the hotly anticipated semi-final.
The Joy Club’s Content & Editorial Manager, Alice Garnett – whose recent interest in football (she admits) was sparked by the success of the women’s team in the 2022 Euros – has done a little digging on the most ferocious of the Lionesses…
Millie Bright, Captain and Defender
For this year’s World Cup, Millie Bright has undertaken the role of Captain, in the absence of an injured Leah Williamson. Born and raised Chesterfield, a small town in North Derbyshire, Bright began playing football aged nine, after watching her friend play for local team Killamarsh Dynamos.
Bright is renowned for her remarkable tackling ability – so any opponent will want to think twice before getting between her and the ball…
Bethany England, Forward
With a last name like that, it seems Bethany England was born for the pitch, born to play for our nation. The 29-year-old Tottenham Hotspur player was born and raised in South Yorkshire’s Barnsley, where she began playing footie with a local boys’ team around the age of six.
England is also considered a hero within the LGBT+ community; she is openly a lesbian and has been in a romantic relationship with fellow-footballer Stephanie Williams since 2018. The pair even got engaged earlier this year!
Ella Toone, Attacking midfielder
Ella Toone’s bubbly personality and eyelash extensions are not to be mistaken for any kind of feminine weakness. When it comes to the game of football, she means business. In a ‘20 questions with Ella Toone’ interview, the 23-year-old Manchester player told Frank Smith that her ambitions even occupy her sleep:
“I dream about winning trophies, playing for England, scoring for England. Just a lot of football dreams and things that I want to keep achieving.”
Lauren James, Midfielder
Born in September 2001 in London, James plays professionally for Chelsea and the England National team.
James wowed audiences with her performance in the final Group D match, in which England went head-to-head with China. She booted the ball straight into the net three times over the course of the game and – although one goal was disallowed – she certainly left her mark on this 6:1 victory.
She has, however, been given a two-game suspension by FIFA for trampling on the back of Michelle Alozie in her team’s round-of-16 win against Nigeria. Suffice to say, James will not be appearing on the pitch for the remainder of this tournament.
Mary Earps, Vice Captain & Goalkeeper
One of the stars of UEFA EURO 2022, Mary’s performances for England as they went on to become European Champions, is something to be remembered – she is certainly a goalkeeper who will go down in football history.
In fact, in the Euros Final, she made an impressive save – snatching the ball (and the goal) away from Germany.
Earps’ goal-keeping abilities have also been recognised in this year’s Women’s World Cup. Charlotte Marsh, senior sports journalist for Sky Sports, argues that “England would not have reached the Women’s World Cup semi-final without the brilliance of Mary Earps.”
She has conceded just two goals throughout the five games played so far this tournament.
Lucy Bronze, Defender
Bronze has been described as “one of the best right-backs in women’s football.” She made her senior team debut in June 2013 and was a key member of the Lionesses team who lifted the European Championship in 2022.
The Lionesses have suffered two instances of “semi-final blues” – not quite making it to the final in both the 2015 and 2019 tournaments. The Guardian spoke to Bronze about how she’s feeling for the upcoming semi-final match against Australia and Bronze’s confidence shone through:
“We got past that hurdle last year in the Euros and finally made it to the final and got past that dreaded ‘always getting beaten in the semi‑finals’, so we’ve got that in the locker,” Bronze said. “Many players in the squad were part of that so we know how difficult it is to get this far, and also how to get to the final and how to win games.”
Let’s hope that Bronze is right and that we beat those semi-final blues in today’s match…
Have you been watching the Women’s World Cup? Do you have a favourite Lioness?