Euro 2022 provides deserved moment for England’s tournament stalwarts

Moments after holding aloft the Lionesses’ maiden piece of silverware, Leah Williamson made a point of handing the European Championship trophy to Jill Scott and Ellen White for the cup’s second lift in English hands.

For White, this was major tournament number five, with her brace in the group stages taking her tally to 10 major tournament goals for the Lionesses. 11 years separated her lob against Japan at the 2011 World Cup and her back post finish during England’s 8-0 victory over Norway in Brighton.

Scott was playing in her eighth major tournament for England, having made her debut 16 years earlier, a time before central contracts existed for the women’s team. The 35-year-old has a World Cup bronze and European silver to her name, and came on with two minutes of normal time remaining in a really shrewd tactical move from Sarina Wiegman, with the tenacious Georgia Stanway on a yellow card.

Scott broke up play masterfully, won anything and everything in the air and committed an assortment of smart, tactical fouls.

“Jill Scott is a champion, Ellen White, her England career and how close she’s come…that’s what we are as a team,” said Williamson. “Those two people are just as important as anybody, but I think they’re the ones, they deserve it the most because of what they’ve done for the women’s game and how they’ve been through the change.”

Lucy Bronze was also making her fifth major tournament appearance at Euro 2022, and she turned in a different kind of performance on Sunday.

So often have England fans become accustomed to seeing the 30-year-old’s barnstorming marauds down the right flank, but her display against Germany was one of defensive resilience – and supreme game management in the dying stages.

“Lucy’s really non-emotional but I think I’ve told her I love her about 50 times tonight,” Scott said. “I thought she was absolutely incredible today. I think sometimes we take her performances for granted because she’s Lucy Bronze and she’s one of the best players in the world.

“To keep doing that game in, game out, I thought she was incredible. I probably told her that about 50 times as well. Without her the team wouldn’t have this achievement tonight and I think we were just chatting thinking: we’ve come along way from our Sunderland days, so savour every moment.”

Having been one of the players of the tournament at the 2015 and 2019 World Cup and 2017 European Championships as England suffered a trio of semi final exits, glory on the international stage has been long deserved for Bronze. 

“Myself and Jill have been here in a lot of moments for England, a lot of semi final defeats and upsets and the good and the bad,” Bronze added. “Jill’s someone I’ve shared this journey with.

“We’ve just reflected on the fact that this has finally happened, especially for someone like Jill. One of the longest serving players who’s ever been for England, one of the most capped. I think everybody’s more happy for her than they are for themselves because a lot of hard work’s gone into moments like today and people like Jill have been like the centre of those moments in England’s history.”