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Grit, goals and graft: Beth England

Already showing signs of greatness in WSL 2 with Doncaster Belles, Beth England had to wait for her chance to prove herself in the top tier following a move to Chelsea in 2016.

Graft

A guaranteed starter for the Belles, England was up against fierce competition in London and only managed six starts during her first season with the then champions. In her own words, England is a grafter, and the rich vein of form she’s in is testament to the tireless work she’s put in on and off the pitch

As she said after the match, “Just putting myself out there, trying to prove myself I have always been a grafter, my parents brought me up to never give up and be a worker and thankfully I am getting results for that and Emma [Hayes] is starting to, especially this season, really show her faith in me leading that front line as a nine.”

Not the team on top in Nottingham yesterday, England’s goals bookended a dogged 95 minutes from the Blues as they weathered the storm from a rampant Arsenal side. After Leah Williamson’s equaliser five minutes from time, many were expecting an Arsenal win or extra time and were left stunned when England directed the ball home from close range in stoppage time.

This season fans have seen a never say die attitude from Chelsea – who have clawed 17 points back from losing positions in the WSL this term – and the final was no exception and England revealed that her teammates knew they could rely on her for one more flash of brilliance.

It’s funny because after that happened, Erin [Cuthbert] literally pulled me and said, ‘Just bring it, I know you have got something else in you!’” she said

Although the goals weren’t ones to write home about – unlike her sublime effort to opening the scores against Arsenal last time they met in the league – they are a culmination of England’s graft, of her loan at Liverpool and an emerging partnership with Sam Kerr. For her manager, who is known for her exacting standards, England fulfilling her potential will always be something to smile about.

I love the story because she had to earn it. There was absolutely no way I was going to give it to her easily, no way, she will tell you that I’m sure. There’s nothing more joyful when a player who you don’t really know if they are going to be able to cut it at the top level gets their head down and put everything into their career.

Hayes continued, “The talent was always there but now you are starting to see the fruit of hard work and perseverance and I really think England have got a player that can add something to them going to the next stage.

England for England

For England, there is little time to bask in her first major trophy with Chelsea as her focus turns to the She Believes Cup this coming week. As she’s grafted domestically, the striker has caught the eye of England manager, Phil Neville and despite her superb goal return last season (22 in 27 in all competitions), there was no room for England at the World Cup, as he admitted recently,

I think what you see in Beth England, she was really unlucky probably before the World Cup, she probably just started to hit her form probably too late. We said to her before the World Cup, when she came into the camps before the world cup, that she will be getting opportunities after Christmas.

When she finally got the nod for her country, England could only manage a hat trick of late cameos for the Lionesses, getting three quarter hours against Norway, Belgium and Brazil – whom she scored her first senior goal against, in Middlesbrough. Although the goal, a deft 12-yard header, wasn’t enough to impact the result it did earn the centre forward her first start in England’s next match. Sitting out the next, England returned to the starting line-up for the Lionesses’ last match of 2019 and once again found herself on the scoresheet, firing in the first of England’s three in Ceské Budejovice.

Just like at Chelsea, England is still grafting, aware that she’s not going to be the first name of Neville’s team sheets as she faces competition at the front but her national team manager has all the faith in her.

She’s in a team full of experienced international footballers looks to me the standout one and every time I see her play she’s added another bit of quality to her game. And now, without doubt, her and Ellen White are the best two centre forwards in England on form and rightly so deserves her place in the squad and, do you know what, she will be getting an opportunity in She Believes to play,” said Neville.

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