Unsung hero Mary Earps’ second coming is an inspiration for England as she plays crucial role in Euros run

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·3-min read
Unsung hero Mary Earps’ second coming is an inspiration for England as she plays crucial role in Euros run
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They’ll be forgotten in the euphoria of today, but there were moments last night when things might have gone very differently — and on each of those occasions, England had Mary Earps to thank for ensuring they didn’t.

Inside 30 seconds, she made a brilliant block from Sofia Jakobsson and then another great save to deny Stina Blackstenius while it was still 0-0. Even in the second half, once England were in control and 2-0 up, the diving fingertip she got to Blackstenius’s header to push it over the bar was so important, because at 2-1 things could have got very nervy at Bramall Lane.

They were massive saves, but she also played a crucial role in calming the team, particularly in those early moments, when England were on the ropes. Mary’s a leader and you could see her motioning with her hands, trying to bring calm, to get some control.

Mary pretty much went untested in the group stages — there wasn’t really a save or a block you could pinpoint and say, ‘That was a massive moment’.

However, in possession, she’s a key part of the way England play in building out from the back — in fact, she’s got the highest passing accuracy percentage of any player in the entire tournament.

Mary Earps is an unsung hero for England after initially fearing for her Lionesses future (REUTERS)
Mary Earps is an unsung hero for England after initially fearing for her Lionesses future (REUTERS)

If anything, that’s testament to how good England’s back line have been, but against Spain she stepped up when they needed her, clawing out that cross-cum-shot from Athenea del Castillo which would have made it 2-0 and probably had England heading out. Then, last night, she was brilliant again.

Mary’s story is amazing. She has only been England’s No1 since Sarina Wiegman took over less than a year ago, and at one point she was effectively fourth choice.

There are similarities with Beth Mead, in that she has bounced back from adversity, from a real low moment, when she was dropped by Phil Neville a few years ago, and then struggled to get back in.

Mary is 29 now and she was saying recently that in those moments, she felt her international career was probably over. You dream of reaching the top of your game and, for her, that must’ve suddenly seemed impossible.

You have to remember that it’s even harder for goalkeepers. There’s only ever one shirt up for grabs and opportunities are hard enough to come by if you’re No2, let alone No3 or No4. In an international set-up, it could be that your chance comes by in a qualifier where the team wins 8-0 and you don’t have a single save to make. It’s so hard to break in.

Mary’s rise again is a wonderful and inspirational story and what a shrewd decision from Wiegman

Then a new manager comes in, gives you that confidence that they’ve got your back and beautiful things can happen, as we’ve seen with Mary.

I spent two years at Real Madrid TV and have watched on as a journalist here for many more and football can be a brutal world. Being a squad member and feeling like you might never get your opportunity is a really tough place to be.

Mary’s rise again is a wonderful and inspirational story and what a shrewd decision, once again from Sarina, to see the quality in her.

In Pictures | Women’s Euro 2022 (Semi-Final): England vs Sweden - Lionesses celebrate victory

England’s Ellen White, Hannah Hampton celebrate and teammates celebrate (REUTERS)
England’s Ellen White, Hannah Hampton celebrate and teammates celebrate (REUTERS)
Ella Toone and Rachel Daly of England celebrate (The FA via Getty Images)
Ella Toone and Rachel Daly of England celebrate (The FA via Getty Images)
England’s Beth Mead, left, celebrates after scoring her side’s first goal (AP)
England’s Beth Mead, left, celebrates after scoring her side’s first goal (AP)
England’s midfielder Fran Kirby celebrates after scoring her team fourth goal (AFP via Getty Images)
England’s midfielder Fran Kirby celebrates after scoring her team fourth goal (AFP via Getty Images)
Lucy Bronze of England celebrates scoring their side’s second goal (Getty Images)
Lucy Bronze of England celebrates scoring their side’s second goal (Getty Images)
Alessia Russo of England scores  a sublime back heel third goal whilst under pressure from Caroline Seger and Jonna Andersson of Sweden (Getty Images)
Alessia Russo of England scores a sublime back heel third goal whilst under pressure from Caroline Seger and Jonna Andersson of Sweden (Getty Images)
Alessia Russo of England celebrates scoring their side’s third goal (Getty Images)
Alessia Russo of England celebrates scoring their side’s third goal (Getty Images)
England’s coach Sarina Wiegman celebrates with England’s midfielder Jill Scott (AFP via Getty Images)
England’s coach Sarina Wiegman celebrates with England’s midfielder Jill Scott (AFP via Getty Images)
The England team form a huddle following victory (The FA via Getty Images)
The England team form a huddle following victory (The FA via Getty Images)
England players celebrate in the dressing room after their sides victory (The FA via Getty Images)
England players celebrate in the dressing room after their sides victory (The FA via Getty Images)
England’s Leah Williamson, left, and Ellen White celebrate (AP)
England’s Leah Williamson, left, and Ellen White celebrate (AP)

She was so far away and yet here she is now, in the No1 jersey, heading to a final at Wembley.

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