The Wembley pitch is now glitter-free but the Lionesses were still sparkling in Trafalgar Square in front of the thousands who gathered on Monday to celebrate with the Euro 2022 champions.
It took a full-squad effort to lift the trophy. Sarina Wiegman never altered her starting XI, but it was often players on her deep bench who provided England’s most dramatic moments, no more so than Chloe Kelly’s championship decider, while understated anchors carried the squad all the way to the Lionesses’ first major title.
Here, the PA news agency picks out England’s top five stars of the tournament.
It was impossible for Mead to single-handedly carry all the trophies she collected on Sunday night. By the time she boarded the bus back to Lionesses HQ, Mead had clinched the Golden Boot and could call herself both European champion and Player of the Tournament after finishing the competition with six goals and five assists – also the competition’s number-one provider – across England’s perfect run to the title. It was the ultimate end to a redemption arc for the resilient Arsenal striker, who was entirely left off Team GB’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic squad.
The Lionesses’ consistent, collected midfielder was named Player of the Match after the final, an honour that led captain Leah Williamson to tweet: “Finally. Put some respect on her name”. Walsh’s ball control and ability to find team-mates anywhere on the pitch, including the pinpoint through-ball that led to Ella Toone’s opener in the title clash, was unmatched throughout these Euros. Walsh also tied team-mate Fran Kirby and Sweden’s Kosovare Asllani for the second-most assists of the tournament and covered the fourth-most distance of any player.
Bright’s formidable presence at the back was reassuring for team-mates and fans alike, who knew that if there was a dangerous ball in the air there would be Bright’s head rising to meet it, or a perfectly-placed foot to clear when the opposition’s attack edged ever-closer to the Lionesses’ goal. The Chelsea star always put her body on the line, anchoring a defence that was vital in England conceding just two goals all tournament.
The skipper’s stats speak for themselves: Williamson recovered more balls, 56, than any other player these Euros. Still, maths can only tell so much of the story, and Williamson’s contribution began well before the Lionesses’ opener at Old Trafford. The Arsenal star’s steadiness, eloquence and maturity have shone ever since she was named England’s permanent captain in April. She could be seen encouraging calm in the nervy start to Sunday’s showpiece before finally letting her raw emotions show after the final whistle, also taking time to console devastated German midfielder Lena Oberdorf during the celebrations.
There was a point, just last summer, when the Manchester United goalkeeper did not even think she would be going to these Euros, let alone start every game for the Lionesses. Ellie Roebuck, Carly Telford and Sandy MacIver had travelled to the Olympics, while Villa’s Hannah Hampton’s name was buzzing around football circles. Wiegman, however, put unwavering faith in Earps, who rewarded her head coach with four clean sheets and made 13 stops during the competition – six of them in the final. Her smothering stop after a nail-biting goalmouth scramble on Sunday was a game-changer.
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