Leah Williamson: I can’t help but smile because it feels amazing
Standing in front of the media, with a scarf which read: ‘home is where the heart is’, England captain Leah Williamson allowed herself to imagine what it is going to be like to lead her country out at Wembley Stadium in the final of a major tournament.
Captain. At Wembley. In a EUROs Final. What will it mean?
“I haven’t thought about it yet. We’ve got some preparation to do, we don’t even know who we are playing yet,” came the immediate response, in line with England’s continued approach to focusing on the job at hand.
Before adding: “But for me, and I have said this to you guys before, to walk out onto that pitch was an incredible feeling tonight and I can imagine at the weekend that will be incredible as well.
“I’ve got a scarf round my neck which says ‘home is where the heart is’ and to have our families on this journey, to walk out at Wembley, I think that is something we really have to take in. I want to appreciate it for what it is, but I have got a job to do and that’ll be the most important thing.”
Williamson’s professionalism and focus often see her with what some would consider a stern look on her face during team photos and national anthems.
But in recent weeks, a smile has been increasingly seen on her face in such moments, something which was highlighted in the post-match interview area at Bramall Lane last night after
England beat Sweden 4-0 in their UEFA Women’s EUROs semi-final clash.
Williamson said: “I am not much of a smiler pre-game, I keep it pretty game-face because I am focused, but in the last two national anthems, I can’t help but smile because it feels amazing.
“And this is what I mean, I know I have a job to do, but who says I can’t enjoy those moments and the team can’t enjoy those moments?
“I hope we are giving off that vibe because that’s what it is. It’s genuine and the crowd can enjoy that with us.
“I hope the crowd at Wembley is going to have as good a time as we are going to have because I promise you, we will enjoy it.”
England 4-0 Sweden | Highlights
Lionesses are through to the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 final
The togetherness within this England squad is a constant theme and it is rare that the players highlight individual performances unless prompted, focusing instead on the collective.
It was put to Williamson that the victory over Sweden was a real team display, which in many respects it was, with a number of impressive performances across the pitch.
But Williamson responded: “I will speak about one individual, because Mary Earps made a save at a key moment of the game which was an incredible turning point for us.
“We then went up the other end and scored. That’s when you talk about a team, that means a team, that’s what the team is about because at two opposite ends of the pitch everybody is making it count.
“That moment deserves a shoutout. Everybody today was absolutely incredible and delivered what they needed to deliver, and we go again on Sunday.”
Williamson is often named as the team’s DJ in the dressing room and she confirmed: “We have some classics that keep getting rolled out, a couple of songs hinting at the fact that we are heading to Wembley, which is the final destination we always wanted to get to.”
As captain of the England national team and starring in one of the most successful leagues on a weekly basis, Williamson is now one of the most recognisable faces in world football.
But it wasn’t always the case, with the 25-year-old playing through a transformative period of the game, with a host of the current England players needing part-time jobs to pay for their football.
On Sunday, Wembley Stadium connected by EE will be sold-out as fans watch England take on either France or Germany in the UEFA Women’s EUROs Final.
When asked if Sunday was everything Williamson and the other players in the past have been working towards, the captain replied: “100 per cent. We started a journey and we’ve got people with us. We’ve changed the game and that’s what’s happened, but that’s the people before us. That’s the likes of Carol Thomas, Jill Scott, Ellen White [and others], who I looked at and was inspired by when I was younger.
“Now it is about doing our job on the pitch. That’s the biggest way we can contribute and that’s what we are focused on.”
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