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Published 16 September 2021 4 min read
England Women's Senior Team

Earps thought England career was over but now she's back

Written by:

Frank Smith

Manchester United goalkeeper was planning a trip to John Lewis when she found out about her England Lionesses recall

“I had kind of made peace with my international career being over – no bitterness or bad feelings – just the reality of the situation." But Mary Earps was wrong. 

When Earps played the full 90 minutes for the Lionesses in front of a record-breaking 77,768 fans at Wembley Stadium connected by EE in November 2019, little did she know that game with Germany would be her only appearance for her country in the following two years.

The goalkeeper was an unused substitute for the friendly against Czech Republic a few days later but then despite some impressive form for Manchester United, that was to be her last call-up. That is until Sarina Wiegman’s appointment.

Earps said: “It’s been a bit mental but very great. Obviously it is great to be back in, great to get the call-up and I am looking forward to being here, training and learning as much as I can from Sarina and the coaches and seeing what happens going forward.”

Earps admits the call up for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers against North Macedonia in Southampton on Friday and away to Luxembourg on Tuesday was totally unexpected.

While many of the players would have been waiting for the email to land to see whether they had made Wiegman’s first squad, Earps was getting ready to head to John Lewis.

27 Aug 2020 10.55

Earps' virtual training session

Mary Earps gives a virtual session in goalkeeper training to Hutton Ladies FC goalkeeper Maisie, brought to you by Lucozade Sport.

She said: “It was a bit of an unexpected email. I was in the kitchen and was about to get curtain poles and I got the email. I got the email and my eyes were wide – it was surreal. I didn’t know it was coming.

“I rang my mum and dad and they were chuffed for me and it was nice to spend that moment with them.”

And after almost two years out of the England set-up, Earps acknowledged: “You appreciate it more, hugely. It is a hugely gratifying thing.

“It is important to be grateful in normal life any way and I think it is a real key to happiness but with everything that has happened over the last couple of years, this little comeback is hugely personal to me and I am just delighted that it has happened.

“I had kind of made peace with my international career being over – no bitterness or bad feelings – just the reality of the situation.

“I’m glad that I have been given a fresh chance and hopefully I can take it.”

Sarina Wiegman will take charge of an England Lionesses game for the first time on Friday
Sarina Wiegman will take charge of an England Lionesses game for the first time on Friday

Saturday 9 November 2019 was a special day for several reasons. Not only was it Earps’ England debut, not only was it the highest attendance for a home England women’s senior team fixture, it was also the last time England fans had the chance to watch their team live on these shores.

That will change on Friday night when supporters will have the opportunity to watch the Lionesses at Southampton’s St. Mary’s Stadium, with adult tickets costing £15, concessions £5 and children £2.50.

“It has nearly been two years to the day – I probably know that better than most – but I think it will be unbelievable if we can get as many fans down [to the North Macedonia match] as possible,” Earps said.

“Everyone can’t wait to get back to full normality. We have had a taster of having fans back in the WSL and it is great to have that noise, the atmosphere, back so hopefully a lot of people will be down in Southampton on Friday.”

She continued: “I’m hugely looking forward to it. We don’t know the team and you don’t want to take anything for granted but I’m hugely grateful to be here and I want to help the team in whatever capacity I can and give the best version of myself. 

“Hopefully I can take my chance, if and when it comes my way, but it is important the team get the win and we start building towards qualification.”

Friday’s match with North Macedonia will be Wiegman’s first as head coach of the England women’s senior team, after officially starting on September 1.

The 51-year-old is recognised as one of the best coaches in women’s football after leading her native Netherlands to UEFA European Championship glory in 2017, the FIFA World Cup Final two years later and then in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, where the Dutch reached the quarter-finals.

Wiegman met the players for the first time on Sunday before taking the opening training session earlier this week.

Earps said: “It has only been a couple of days but it has been good.

“I don’t know Sarina too well but the conversations that I have had with her and the few interactions I have had with her, she seems really positive and a really calm person but really direct, intense and focussed in terms of what she wants to achieve.

“She seems really intelligent in terms of the game, her experience and has a good reputation so I think it is a really exciting time to be in camp and a huge opportunity for us all to learn and hopefully she can take the team to the next level.”

Tickets for North Macedonia