England Women’s Football Team: In Profile
We take a closer look at the Lionesses at Euro 2017
It may have snuck under many football fans’ radars, but the UEFA Women’s Euros, held in the Netherlands, is now underway and England have a genuine chance of victory in the tournament.
Women’s football has witnessed a meteoric rise over the last 15 years, with the majority of England’s elite football clubs now boasting a female team competing in either the FA WSL or FA WSL2, so we decided to take a closer look at the Lionesses as they aim to better the efforts of the men’s team in a major international tournament.
The Head Coach
Mark Sampson is the 34 year old Head Coach of the England Women’s team. He started his professional coaching career at Welsh club Taff’s Well, before making the move into women’s football to manage Bristol Academy between 2009 and 2013. In his final year at Bristol, he guided them to a second-place finish in the FA WASL, the club’s best-ever finish.
He was then appointed England Women’s manager in December 2013, following the sacking of Hope Powell after 15 years at the helm. Mark guided England to a third-place finish in the Women’s World Cup back in 2015, beating Germany in the play-off, and he’ll be hoping his team can build on that effort in the Netherlands this summer.
If there’s anyone that epitomises England’s love of football, it’s Steph Houghton. The 29 year old centre back from Durham is the captain of the England team, taking over the mantel from women’s football legend Kelly Smith following her retirement in 2015. She is also the captain of her club side, Manchester City, where she has played since transferring from Arsenal in January 2014.
Houghton has won the FA WSL three times, the FA WSL Cup four times and the FA Women’s Cup three times with Man City and Arsenal and has won the Cyprus Cup with England three times. She was awarded an MBE in 2016 for services to football and will be aiming to add a Euros medal to her already impressive collection.
Kelly Smith is England Women’s all-time top goalscorer with 46, but not far behind her on 40 goals is midfield maestro Fara Williams. The 33 year old is one of the most experienced players in the squad, having begun her professional career back in 2001 at Charlton Ladies. She moved to Everton Ladies in 2004, where she stayed and enjoyed relative success until 2012, when she then left for local rivals Liverpool.
She stayed with the Reds until 2015, but was then snapped up by Arsenal Ladies, where she has notched two goals in 22 appearances for the Gunners. Her honours include two FA Women’s Cups, two FA Women’s Premier League Cups and two FA WSL titles as well as three Cyprus Cup wins with England. She’s England’s designated penalty taker, so she could find herself closing in on Smith’s record by the end of the tournament.
The One to Watch
Fran Kirby is arguably the most promising player in this England squad. She began her career at her local club Reading in 2012 and took them to the WSL 2, scoring 32 goals in 21 appearances in the FA Women’s Premier League Southern Division. Kirby helped Reading to a third place finish in 2014 with 24 goals in 16 appearances, ending the season as the league’s top scorer and being awarded the FA WSL2 Players’ Player of the Year.
She continued that form into the 2015 season when, after a promising World Cup was ended due to injury, she was rewarded with a transfer to WSL side Chelsea, where she has scored 15 goals in 17 appearances for the Blues. Mark Sampson hailed her a ‘mini-Messi’ in Canada in 2015 and the nation will be hoping she can live up to that comparison at the Euros.
England Women’s Fixtures
England Women are in Group D for the championships along with neighbours Scotland as well as Portugal and Spain. Below, you can find information on all of England’s group stage fixtures, which can be watched live on Channel 4.
Wednesday 19th July 2017 19:45 BST– v Scotland
Group Stage – Galgenweaard, Utrecht
Sunday 23rd July 2017 19:45 BST – v Spain
Group Stage – Rat Verlegh, Breda
Thursday 27th July 19:45 BST – v Portugal
Group Stage – Willem II, Tilburg
England Women’s Squad
Mark Sampson has named a 23-strong squad for the Euro Championships in the Netherlands, those who follow the England Women will notice absence of Kelly Smith, with this being the first major tournament the Lionesses have competed in since the history-making forward retired from international football. You can find the full England Women’s squad for the Euros below.
Karen Bardsley (Man City), Siobhan Chamberlain (Liverpool), Calry Telford (Notts County)
Laura Bassett (Notts County), Lucy Bronze (Man City), Alex Greenwood (Liverpool), Steph Houghton (Man City), Jo Potter (Notts Country), Alex Scott (Arsenal), Demi Stokes (Man City), Casey Stoney (Liverpool)
Millie Bright (Chelsea), Isobel Christiansen (Man City), Jade Moore (Notts County), Jordan Nobbs (Arsenal), Jill Scott (Man City), Fara Williams (Arsenal)
Karen Carney (Chelsea), Toni Duggan (Barcelona), Fran Kirby (Chelsea), Nikita Parris (Man City), Jodie Taylor (Arsenal, Ellen White (Birmingham City)
At the time of writing, England Women are the 7/1* third-favourites to win Euro 2017, with France the 7/2* second-favourites and Germany, who England beat in 2015 remember, considered the favourites at a short 15/8*. If you fancy an outsider to cause a shock, all 16 teams participating in the tournament have been priced up, so head on over to Coral and get your UEFA Women’s Euro 2017 bets on now!
*Prices will change as tournament progresses