‘Biggest honour’: Williamson named England captain for Women’s Euros

  • Arsenal defender to lead team with Millie Bright vice-captain
  • Williamson: ‘I know we have a squad full of leaders’

Leah Williamson described being named as England’s captain for the European Championship this summer as “the biggest honour in football” and something that will “never sink in”.

“For me to wear an England badge would have always been enough,” the Arsenal defender said. “For me to get on the pitch and start in a major tournament is an incredible achievement and something I’ve not done yet for England, so it’s been a quick and massive change for me over the last year or so and that will really be a pinch-myself moment.”

The head coach, Sarina Wiegman, has chosen Williamson, who played only six minutes of football at the 2019 World Cup in France, to lead England’s Euros challenge with Chelsea’s Millie Bright selected as vice-captain. Williamson had been captain in the absence of the injured Steph Houghton for Wiegman’s first two camps in charge, before sustaining a hamstring injury that kept her away from international football until the Arnold Clark Cup in February.

The 25-year-old, who has been used in a double pivot with Keira Walsh in midfield under Wiegman, said: “Steph Houghton is one of this country’s all-time greats and to follow in her footsteps – and all of those special names who have led the team in the past – means so much.

“The main thing for me is performing on the pitch and making sure I do what I need to do there, and then making everyone comfortable because this is a team full of leaders and I don’t think anyone needs me to come in and be anything other than I’ve been.”

The goalkeeper Mary Earps said the players were “buzzing for her” after the announcement. “She’s been the captain for a few camps now and she’s done a great job, so it makes sense,” she said. “She’s a really passionate person on the pitch but she’s really laid back off it. She’s a great character and person.”

Women’s football graphic Moving the Goalposts

Sign up for our new and free women’s football newsletter!

England are preparing for their World Cup qualifiers against North Macedonia on Friday and Northern Ireland next Tuesday. Wiegman said: “This decision gives us continuity at this important final period as we build towards the tournament. It is important we give everyone clarity at this stage.

Leah has been a great leader for us and I know she will continue to set the example we need in her work on and off the pitch.

Steph Houghton
Steph Houghton has thrown her support behind Williamson. Photograph: Naomi Baker/Getty Images

“She joins a proud list of England captains and will be following in the footsteps of the likes of the first captain, Sheila Parker, but also her predecessor Steph Houghton, who have all been integral for the women’s game.”

Houghton said: “It has been the greatest honour and privilege to captain my country for the last eight years.”

The former captain remains in a fight to regain her fitness and be in contention for the Euros.

“The past 12 months have been very difficult from a football perspective in trying to overcome a number of injuries,” she said. “With the injuries I understand and respect Sarina’s decision to name a new captain.

“The captaincy is being passed on to a very deserving and driven leader in Leah Williamson with all the attributes an England captain needs to be successful, and I have no doubt she will be. I will give my total support to Leah and will be there for her with any help or advice she may need, similarly to that I received from Casey [Stoney] and Faye [White].

“For me, I don’t feel my England story is complete and I continue to work hard with my rehabilitation in trying to make the squad.”


Suzanne Wrack

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
There will be nerves, admits England captain Leah Williamson
Leah Williamson said the England players were ‘not robots’ and would be nervous before their Euro 22 campaign kicks off against Austria on Wednesday

Suzanne Wrack

05, Jul, 2022 @7:00 PM

Article image
England captain Williamson making her mark without having to tackle
Arsenal defender has excelled with her authoritative yet elegant play and hopes to lift country’s first major trophy since 1966

Louise Taylor

29, Jul, 2022 @12:48 PM

Article image
England Women delay Euros squad cut after Wiegman family bereavement
The announcement of England’s Euros squad has been delayed until Sarina Wiegman returns to training at St George’s Park next week

Suzanne Wrack

06, Jun, 2022 @3:22 PM

Article image
Lauren Hemp urges England teammates to ‘embrace’ Euros selection D-day
Lauren Hemp has urged England’s players to enjoy every day of the Euros summer as nerves build in the Lionesses camp before the squad announcement on Wednesday

Peter Lansley

14, Jun, 2022 @11:00 AM

Article image
England and Germany meet again for Euros final but goalposts have moved
These sides met in the 2009 Women’s Euros final but that game belongs in a different era – Sunday’s match will show just how far the game has come

Jonathan Liew

30, Jul, 2022 @7:00 AM

Article image
Nobbs to miss Euros but Houghton and Kirby in provisional England squad
Arsenal’s Jordan Nobbs will miss the Euros with a knee injury that has led to her omission from the 28-player provisional England squad

Suzanne Wrack

17, May, 2022 @2:00 PM

Article image
England and Germany set to show 13 years of progress in Euros final
Finalists met in Euro 2009 showpiece before 15,000 fans – Sunday’s rematch will illustrate how far the game has come

Nick Ames

28, Jul, 2022 @7:30 PM

Article image
‘Home is where the heart is’: Leah Williamson insists England are focused
Leah Williamson said England ‘must do their job on the pitch’ in Sunday’s final after the dramatic 4-0 semi-final victory over Sweden

Suzanne Wrack

27, Jul, 2022 @4:02 PM

Article image
How Euro 2005 offered England a glimpse of women’s football’s future
Hope Powell’s side bowed out early but England’s last home women’s Euros was an ‘inspiring watershed moment’

Louise Taylor

19, Jun, 2022 @10:00 AM

Article image
‘So far ahead’: Shiels warns England falling short of Euros title will be failure
The Northern Ireland manager’s message to England was simple: ‘If you have the best players, you have to win’

Peter Lansley at St Mary's

15, Jul, 2022 @10:50 PM