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The new England captain

The new England captain

England is hosting the Women’s Euros this summer. With hundreds of thousands of tickets already sold, new captain Leah Williamson has an important role to play.

There are fewer than 100 days to go until England hosts the Women’s European Championships this summer. 

And it’s going to be a big deal. 

It took just 43 minutes for all 90,000 tickets for the Wembley final to sell out.

Ticket sales across all the matches have already exceeded the total sold for the 2017 tournament by over 100,000. 

“Any football fan, I think genuinely buy your tickets! Not just for England games, I genuinely believe it’s going to be a competitive tournament and a fantastic tournament for us to host.”

Sky Sports News

For the England team, this is a chance to showcase the progress it’s made due to increased revenue and coverage of the Women’s Super League this season.

But Captain Steph Houghton has been plagued by injury recently. 

“And quickly the decision was made that Steph Houghton won’t be able to play in these next two games. Now the reason this personally is a big blow for her, is because Steph Haughton’s been England Captain for seven years but going into this camp, Sarena Wiegman said she wanted to take the next two games against North Macedonia, against Luxembourg to assess her squad and make a decision on who will lead England permanently going forward. This was effectively Steph Houghton’s audition to prove again to the new head Coach that she was the right leader for this team going forward. Unfortunately, she will not get the chance to do so at St Mary’s tonight against North Macedonia.”

Sky Sports News

So it was time to hand the armband to a new, permanent Captain Steph Houghton says her replacement is a deserving and driven leader.

It will be Arsenal’s Leah Williamson who will lead England’s women out on home soil this summer. 

And she’s certainly looking forward to it. Here she is talking to BBC Sport.

“I just think that football in this country…football culture in this country is unbelievable innit? So for us to have the opportunity to do that now…who wouldn’t want to be involved in that?”

BBC Sport

Leah Williamson has just signed a new contract with Arsenal, where she’s been since 2006, when she was just nine years old. 

She’s extremely versatile. She can play in midfield or defence. She’s partial to a sliding tackle, can rise up to win headers and she’s extremely athletic. 

So much so that when she saw Greg Rutherford compete in the long-jump in 2012, she wondered how she could get to the Olympics in a sport other than football. 

She was a talented runner and enjoyed athletics, but she did eventually end up competing for Team GB’s women’s football team at the Tokyo Games in 2021. 

England’s new Captain has also proved that she can hold her nerve. 

When she was playing for the Under-19s in a European Championship qualifier, Leah Williamson scored a penalty in injury time. But it was disallowed due to encroachment in the box. 

The rules state that the referee should award a re-take. But on the day, the referee awarded an indirect free-kick to Norway. 

England challenged the decision. And so the game had to be replayed from the penalty kick onwards, five days later. 

Up stepped Leah Williamson…

Leah Williamson’s family are always behind her too. When she won the Women’s Super League with Arsenal in 2019, she ran straight to her Mum to celebrate. 

And when she was asked to be England Captain, she told the BBC that the first thing she did was…

“I just obviously rang my Mum.”

“What was the call like with your Mum?”

“I don’t think I’m allowed to say it right now…the words that she used! Yeah she just said enjoy it, we’ll be there.”

BBC Sport

She also has some high-profile fans. Ian Wright made this video when she was selected for the Women’s World Cup in 2019. 

“It’s somebody that I’ve got a lot of admiration for. Fantastic player. Now a league winner and a lifelong Arsenal supporter. I just want to say, Leah Williamson…congratulations on being picked for the Women’s World Cup, to represent our great country.”

Ian Wright

When England kick off the Women’s Euros at Old Trafford against Austria on July the 6th, it will be Leah Williamson that leads the team out. 

It seems the England team are in good hands with her.

Today’s story was written by Chloe Beresford and mixed by Imy Harper.