- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Ella Toone says England are well aware of the wider impact this summer’s European Championships could have on the women’s game, but insists the Lionesses’ full focus must be on lifting the trophy once the tournament itself comes around.
Eight matches at the Euros, which start in early July, have already sold out, including England’s opener against Austria at Old Trafford and the final at Wembley.
The competition, initially scheduled for last summer until being pushed back 12 months to avoid a clash with the Covid-delayed men’s Euros, will be the first major women’s international football event played in this country since the 2012 Olympic Games.
Team GB’s exploits at that tournament came at the start of a decade of major progress for the women’s game, with England going on to reach the semi-finals of the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, as well as Euro 2017.
After that trio of near-misses, England are amongst the favourites this summer, yet to taste defeat under new boss Sarina Wiegman, and Toone says the opportunity that lies ahead on the pitch is the chief priority.
“It’s going to be a massive summer for women’s football and it’s only going to help grow the game but when we step out onto the pitch our main focus is to win games and to make the nation proud,” Toone told Standard Sport. “We’re representing our country at a home Euros - what more could we want? We want to go there and just enjoy ourselves and make each other proud and the nation proud as well.
“You want to win as many games as you can and your dream is to win major tournaments. It’s about enjoying it, taking the opportunity that’s come and try to make a nation proud, make each other proud.”
Toone was speaking at an event at London’s Acland Burghley School in partnership with the Bloomsbury Football Foundation and Wow Hydrate, who are providing 18 young girls with bursary placements to play football at the grassroots club.
Speaking on BBC podcast Jill Scott’s Coffee Club last week, Toone revealed the role meeting England internationals - including Scott - at a similar event in Manchester as a child had had on her motivation to make a career in the game. Now 22, the Manchester United regular says she is determined to have a similar influence.
“I think it’s just great that young girls have role models to look up to now,” she adds. “It was always hard growing up as women’s football wasn’t as big then but now it’s massive. I want to help as many girls enjoy football and fall in love with the game as I can. I’m glad I have the opportunity to give back and be a good role model.
“It’s amazing to see, it’s still crazy now to see little things like a young girl with your name on the back of the shirt. I want to be the best role model I can be to those young girls, anything I can do to help.”
Bloomsbury Football uses the power of football to improve the lives of young people in London. For more information on the campaign, visit www.wowhydrate.com