What England star said about Hannah Hampton speaks volumes after Mary Earps injury

Hampton impressed for England against France
-Credit: (Image: Photo by Harriet Lander - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

There were 33 minutes on the clock at St James' Park when Hannah Hampton elicited one of the loudest cheers of the night.

The Chelsea shot-stopper, whose international career had looked dead and buried not even two years ago, scrambled across her goal to push Maelle Lakrar's towering header to safety. Less than half an hour earlier, Hampton had been settled on the England bench, watching from the sidelines as longtime No. 1 Mary Earps took up her place between the sticks.

But, after the Manchester United goalkeeper pulled up with an injury just two minutes into the Lionesses' EURO 2025 qualifier against France, Sarina Wiegman gave Hampton the nod. And while the evening ultimately ended in disappointment for England, with France coming from behind to win the game 2-1, the 23-year-old’s excellent individual display was one of the few highlights of the night on Tyneside.

It has been quite a spectacular season for Hampton, who joined Chelsea from Aston Villa last summer. Though she was part of England's triumphant squad at the 2022 European Championships, the Birmingham-born shot-stopper didn’t actually make it onto the pitch at the tournament and was dropped entirely from the subsequent four squads before returning to the international fold in March 2023.

There were question marks over her club career too, with Villa manager Carla Ward surprisingly leaving her No.1 out of the matchday squad for a trip to Kingsmeadow in October 2022, citing the decision as being in the “best interests of the team”.

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Over the past 12 months though, Hampton has gone from strength to strength, playing a crucial part in Chelsea's latest Women's Super League (WSL) title win and displacing Earps in England's starting lineup against the Republic of Ireland last month.

"It's not down to an injury," Wiegman confirmed to ITV before that match. "I think we're in a very luxurious position that we have two incredible goalkeepers.

"As we saw with Mary (against Sweden), she did an incredible job but I also think that Hannah is doing a great job for Chelsea. She's growing into competition with Mary so this is a moment for her to shine."

While there were a few shaky moments for Hampton against the Irish in Dublin, it was a different story on Friday night. In addition to her super stop to deny Lakrar, the Chelsea goalkeeper commanded her area well and her brilliant distribution was effective in helping the Lionesses build from the back.

There was nothing she could do for either of the goals conceded, the first of which was a stunning volley from right-back Elisa De Almeida to cancel out Beth Mead’s earlier strike.The matchwinner, another fantastic first-time finish scored by Marie-Antoinette Katoto, was planted right into the bottom corner and was born from England’s shoddy set-piece defending rather than a goalkeeping error.

"They’re both great goalkeepers," midfielder Georgia Stanway said after the game when asked by about the differences between Hampton and Earps. “You can play either one of them and you know exactly what you’re going to get.

"I think that’s what’s special. Either one you feel safe with them behind you and for an outfield player that’s exactly what you want. You can see the way Hannah distributes the ball is world class.

"The passes that she was making into the full-back areas were unbelievable today. Obviously to come on after five minutes, it’s completely different circumstances and within the first few minutes she’s able to pull off a save like that (to deny Lakrar). That shows the type of goalkeeper she is.

"I know she’s had her head down and she’s been working really hard at Chelsea and she’s got her place at Chelsea. She’s been playing games and she deserved it tonight. Obviously we hope that Mary is okay and she recovers well but like I say you could play either one of them and you know exactly what you’re going to get because they’re both world class."

It is high praise indeed from the Bayern Munich star, with her assessment of Hampton backing up departing Chelsea boss Emma Hayes’ belief that the young goalkeeper “has all the ability to become the best in the world."

Of course, there is still some way to go before Hampton can lay claim to that particular title. Earps has been named the FIFA Best goalkeeper for the past two years in a row and she will not relinquish her crown, nor her starting England spot, without a fight.

But, with the United shot-stopper a major doubt for England’s next game - also against France - on June 4, Hampton could get another chance to show what she can do in a Lionesses shirt. And, judging by Friday’s showing, she is more than ready to grab that opportunity with both hands.