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Published 05 July 2022 8 min read
England Women's Senior Team

Leah Williamson: 'I've told them I can never repay the investment they've made in me'

Written by:

Frank Smith

England's captain hopes leading out her country at Old Trafford can help partly repay her family for all of their support

Leah Williamson believes she will never be able to repay her family for the role they played in her football career but hopes them seeing her walk out as captain of England in a home EUROs on Wednesday night will go some of the way.

Williamson’s Mum took her to a trial at local side Scot Youth in Bletchley at the age of six and after a year she joined Rushden & Diamonds’ centre of excellence.

By the age of nine, Williamson had followed her Rushden coach to Arsenal and the versatile youngster’s talent has seen her star for all of England’s sides since the under-15 level.

Wherever it is in the world, Williamson’s family are never far behind and on Wednesday night, they are set to see the midfielder captain her country in front of a sold-out Old Trafford in the opening match of UEFA Women's EURO 2022 against Austria.

Williamson said: “I've told them I can never repay the investment they've made in me; the money, the time and everything. 

“I can never ever repay that, other than giving them experiences, whether it's them coming into the indoor games to watch me or coming to Old Trafford with 70,000 fans so they can enjoy the day and really take it in. 

“That's the only way I can ever pay them back and I'm happy for them that they're getting to experience that a little more now. 

“When my family came to France (for the 2019 World Cup) I had ten or more people coming to every single game there and yet I played 30 minutes.

“But it doesn't change [anything] as they would be just as proud of me and for them to be able to really enjoy it now is nice.” 

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Williamson’s game time at the 2019 World Cup was limited to a substitute appearance against Cameroon but her performances for club and country since have seen her become an integral part of the England team.

So when Sarina Wiegman arrived as head coach in September 2021 and long-time captain Steph Houghton was ruled out of the first matches through injury, she turned to Williamson, initially on a temporary basis and then for the duration of EURO 2022.

Williamson said: “I think on paper it looks like a pressurised situation, but I don't feel that at the minute. I'm still finding my way with it. 

"I'm not pretending to know all the answers and maybe it's because I'm not pretending to know the answers or pretending to be the readiest I've ever been.

"I've got processes in place I've been using for the last however long in my career for dealing with pressure and things like that. 

“It's not I've been put on a pedestal, I'm just the same, it’s just I have this extra responsibility. 

“And I take it more as a responsibility rather than pressure. I do feel like I would have given anything to get on the pitch [with England], so I don't intend to waste a second now not enjoying it.” 

Leah Williamson and the England players attended NikeTown in London on Friday night, where some of the players made their own designs
Leah Williamson and the England players attended NikeTown in London on Friday night, where some of the players made their own designs

Williamson has played under a host of captains during her career for club and country, including the likes of Houghton, Sophie Ingle and Kim Little.

But Williamson has revealed she also tries to learn from captains in other sports outside of football.

She said: โ€œThe influence of all the people I've played under has had on me is quite a nice mix. I've had leaders on the pitch, off the pitch and I've had quite a lot of influence from all those people. 

โ€œI do like observing other captains and seeing how they behave and then seeing what kind of character, person and player I am. 

โ€œFor example, I watched Ben Stokes the other day and I was listening to his presentation and what he wants from his team, so to speak.

โ€œIt's not the same conversation [I might have] but in terms of those little nuggets of information I think it really helped.โ€