England’s 23-player squad will play the match of the lives on Sunday against Germany at a sold-out Wembley.
Ahead of the 2022 European Women’s Championship final, we asked those who have followed their journey to this point – former and current team-mates, coaches and managers – what makes them each so special as well as offering their last good luck wishes.
GOALKEEPER, MANCHESTER UNITED
By David De Gea, fellow Manchester United goalkeeper
“It’s been amazing to see Mary doing fantastic during the euros and reaching the final. It’s true we’ve been exchanging some messages and I wish her every luck on Sunday. Everyone agrees the save she made to deny Sofia Jakobsson in the semi final against Sweden was outstanding.
“Throughout the tournament she’s demonstrated superb reflexes, an ability to adjust quickly and excellent footwork. She deserves all the accolades she gets. Although I was disappointed with their result earlier in the tournament against Spain, I wish Mary, Ella and Alessia the best of luck for the game.
“It will be a great final between two great teams and nations. I hope the result is the right one for my teammates in Manchester.”
By Claire McDougall-Robinson, former U16s coach at Sunderland Girls Centre of Excellence
“I coached Lucy as a teenager. What I had seen from then and still now is that she’s very much self-driven and always wanting to be the best she can be.
“She takes so much accountability and how she wants to perform on the pitch. She’s performing at the highest level, and the final on Sunday is only one of many rewards she has had in her career and fully deserves.
“She has such a lovely family around her who created a loving environment for her to thrive. She has always been proud to be from Northumberland and the North East. Best wishes for Sunday Lucy and the Lionesses team.”
By Jill Scott, England team-mate
“I think she probably played in every single game this season for Chelsea, and it shows that, maybe on the days when she’s picked up a little injury or isn’t feeling quite right, she always breaks through those barriers and puts herself onto the pitch.
“This summer, I feel like now she’s getting that reward for all the hard work that she’s put in, but she’s also a great player and a great person.
“The plaudits are so well-deserved. I probably can’t say enough good things. I don’t think anybody has got past her [in this tournament], she’s won every single header that’s come into the box.
“Plus I’ve really enjoyed having a little dance with her out on the pitch after the games.”
By Jen Beattie, Arsenal team-mate
Leah Williamson joined Arsenal’s Centre of Excellence in 2006 aged nine and went on to become the youngest player to reach 100 appearances in Arsenal history. She has played alongside Jen Beattie since the Scottish defender joined the club in 2019.
LEFT-BACK, HOUSTON DASH
By Izzy Christiansen, former England team-mate
“Rachel is a very loud and high energy character. She hasn’t changed at all since England U15s and I came through the age groups with her.
“She had a spell out of the national team but earned her place back in it via playing in America, which is not a frequently trodden path. She’s versatile on and off the pitch and an inquisitive learner.
“She thrives off being at the centre of team jokes. Some would say she needs a volume dial, but that’s just who she is. She’s in a team now where she can be herself and she’s thriving, having an excellent tournament.“
DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDER, MANCHESTER CITY
By Nick Cushing, former Manchester City head coach
Nick Cushing spotted Keira when she was 16-year-old and went to trial for Blackburn Rovers. He coached her for seven seasons and says she has incredible ambition. Listen to the audio.
By Stephanie Bannon, former Sunderland teammate
“I remember someone at the club asked me one day to look after this girl who was coming up from Middlesbrough Centre of Excellence because she ‘is f***ing mint’ and we really want to sign her.
“I met this little lass who was really shy and didn’t say too much. I spoke to her parents and her dad was saying they weren’t sure because it was a long way to drive from Yorkshire, but they also knew it was the best thing for her football career. But she was as good as they said. I’m so proud of her. I think I’ve cried every time she has scored at the Euros.”
DEFENSIVE MIDFIELDER, BAYERN MUNICH
By Nick Cushing, former Manchester City head coach
“Georgia was at Blackburn Rovers and I was told there was a really talented 16-year-old playing in their first team, scoring lots of goals from midfield.
“I had seen some video and thought she looked good. But Blackburn were an amateur team, so I drove to her parents’ house because I heard that Liverpool was trying to sign her. It was in Barrow – three an a half hours from Manchester.
“Georgia actually played [for the first team] at 16, she scored a hat-trick at home to Sunderland. She has incredible hunger and drive and is the most competitive player that I’ve coached. She will go right to the very top.”
By Kelly Chambers, Reading manager
Reading manager Kelly Chambers witnessed Fran Kirby’s rapid rise through the ranks at the Berkshire club before she was selected for the 2015 World Cup. But it was actually in goal – rather than in front of it – that Chambers first spotted the forward. Listen to the audio.
FORWARD/WINGER, MANCHESTER CITY
By Willie Kirk, former Bristol City and Everton manager
Former Bristol City manager Willie Kirk signed Lauren Hemp for the club when she was 16. Originally from North Walsham, Norfolk, Hemp was initially hit by homesickness but soon found her stride, earning her move to Manchester City in 2018. Listen to the audio.
STRIKER, MANCHESTER CITY
By Steph Houghton, Manchester City team-mate
“She is the most annoying person in the morning, she literally puts on five snoozes on her alarm before she gets up in the morning. Whenever we were travelling anywhere, she would always turn up a little bit late although I think that was to make sure I got the coffees in. She also has the most awful taste in music, when we were doing conditioning on bikes for the Olympics in Tokyo I asked what she was listening to and it was Love is All Around by Wet Wet Wet.
“For a centre forward, she doesn’t half like to put her foot in [for a tackle]. She has been a goal machine for England, the ultimate team player and she is one of my best friends.”
DEFENDER, MANCHESTER CITY
By Mollie Green, lifelong friend and Birmingham City player
“Something that not everyone knows is that me and Al went to the same high school [Savio Salesian College] together. The teachers would get Al to look out for me and we were the footie stars in the school. I couldn’t be prouder if I tried, of how far she’s gone. She’s an inspiration.”
By Kerys Harrop, Tottenham defender and former team-mate
“Whenever I think of Jess , all I think about is her laugh. We nicknamed it the cackle, it was just the weirdest laugh ever. I think she’ll definitely have the worst laugh in the England team!
“But just overall my memory is she came in as a youngster at Birmingham, and made her debut at 16 in the Champions League at St Andrew’s in a win against Arsenal, and she was just very chilled and never put too much pressure on herself.
“She was always very relaxed about football, and I think that’s maybe why she’s got to where she’s got to now.”
GOALKEEPER, ASTON VILLA
By Lily Simkin, her former Birmingham City team-mate
“I will always remember Hannah picking me up from the train station for training, and how we used to sing and dance the whole way to the ground and plan what Tiktok dance we were learning next!
“Also, I love to see she still wears the most layers to keep warm. Good luck for the final!”
LEFT-BACK, MANCHESTER CITY
By Rachael Laws, former Sunderland team-mate
“The thing that sticks out for me is that even back then, when she was so young and the game was part time, she treated it like she was a full time athlete. It is almost as though she knew where she was heading and what she needed to do to get there.
“If you didn’t know her very well you might think she is quite vulnerable and shy, but she has always been a really strong and independent woman. I remember her not being able to get a lift to training one day and it was pouring with rain. She still arrived soaked to the skin to start training. She was incredibly dedicated to the game and that’s why she is where she is now.”
By Siobhan Chamberlain, former England team-mate
“Jill is the last one remaining from the Euros final against Germany in 2009, but without doubt still the first one I’d want in my dressing room this Sunday!
“A hectic mixture of pure unorganised chaos and the funnest, kindest heart! You always know where Jill is sitting in the dressing room and where she’s been, as she leaves a trail of destruction behind her.
“Jill has been filling dressing rooms with laughter for over 20 years but her presence and contribution on and off the pitch goes far further than that. The perfect teammate and a player that has given so much for her Country. Few people would deserve a winner’s medal more than Jill.”
By Rachel Brown-Finnis, former Everton team-mate
Retired goalkeeper Rachel Brown-Finnis got to know Nikita Parris closely during their time playing together at Everton, where the latter began her youth career before going on to play for Manchester City, Lyon and Arsenal. Listen to the audio.
FORWARD, MANCHESTER CITY
By Karen Bardsley, team-mate at Manchester City
“Immediately when I think of Chloe Kelly I think of her walking around with a smile on her face, with positive vibes and her blonde hair bobbing around. Unfortunately she had that pretty severe ACL injury but I got to see a different side of her over the course of her rehab and it’s a testament to her commitment, to her football and to being a professional, and the type of determination that she possesses. She’s very hard working, very committed, and she’s also like a bundle of energy. She’s very bouncy and super fun to be around.”
By Scott Rogers, former Liverpool Women manager
“I knew the moment I spoke to her that she was right for us. Her attitude towards everything was extremely professional. Beth worked extremely hard on her game day in, day out, she would constantly be reviewing her performances and spent hours of extra time on the training pitch. You could see she was going to be a top player because she never stopped wanting to get better in that year with us. I think it’s this trait that makes her special, she doesn’t just rely on her ability.
“I wish her and the team the best of luck for Sunday. Whatever happens they have inspired a new generation of footballers within the country, and we are extremely proud of them all.”
FORWARD, MANCHESTER UNITED
By Lucy Staniforth, Manchester United team-mate
Super sub Ella Toone has made her presence felt from the bench this tournament, scoring and providing an assist in five appearances. Previously at Blackburn Rovers and then Manchester City, she crossed sides to United in 2018, playing together with Staniforth for the last two seasons.
GOALKEEPER, MANCHESTER CITY
By Chris Williams, Manchester City goalkeeping coach
“My first memory was of a shy 15-year-old coming in to train with the likes of Karen Bardsley, Steph Houghton and Jill Scott. She never once looked out of place and soon adapted to become one of the group. But she was all legs and arms with no torso as she was still growing – she looked like Bambi.
“Her natural ability, mentality and willingness to learn were and still are her main assets. She’s always been someone who works hard and wants to improve every day both on and off the pitch.”
By Katie McCabe, Arsenal team-mate
Republic of Ireland captain Katie McCabe joined Arsenal in 2015, the same year Lotte Wubbon-Moy made her senior debut for the club. The pair helped Arsenal lift the Women’s FA Cup in 2016.
STRIKER, MANCHESTER UNITED
By Lucy Staniforth, Manchester United team-mate
England’s back-heel queen Alessia Russo and fellow England attacker Lucy Staniforth both signed for Manchester United in 2020, helping to establish the club in the Women’s Super League.