FEATURED: England stars have their say on new permanent captain Williamson | OneFootball

FEATURED: England stars have their say on new permanent captain Williamson

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FAWSL Full-Time

In less than a week’s time, newly-named permanent England captain Leah Williamson will lead her team out at a major tournament on home soil, one of the biggest honours that a player could have.

Head coach Sarina Wiegman handed Williamson the armband on a permanent basis back in April after impressing in several matches in the early days of the Dutch coach’s tenure as Lionesses boss.

FAWSL Full-Time recently spoke to some of Williamson’s teammates to find out what she has been like as a captain so far.

As the outgoing captain, Steph Houghton knows exactly what it’s like to represent her country in the top spot. Despite months on the sidelines through injury, which resulted in her not being selected for the tournament, she has offered Williamson a shoulder to lean on.

“I’ve got the most respect for Leah,” Houghton said. “I’ve seen her develop into a very, very good player, not just in England but also the world. For me, I’m really proud of her and I said that I’ll give her all the support that she needs.

“She’s going to do things differently to me which is perfectly fine. I think as a team, there are a lot of leaders in this group, those with experience and that are captains at club as well so for us, it’s about grouping together and supporting Leah as much as we can.”

Named alongside Williamson is vice-captain Millie Bright. Along with the third in command, Ellen White, the three players will make up the leadership team under Wiegman at the home EUROs this summer. Despite the new responsibility for Williamson, she has never been anything but herself, something that fellow leader Bright believes is essential to being a good captain.

She said “Sometimes people compare captains with previous captains but for me, she just needs to keep being who she is as a player, that’s what got her in the position she is in and she doesn’t need to change anything.

“That’s been a nice thing to see, that she’s not felt like she has to do anything different or be different, she’s just remained the same and ultimately, that’s the best she can do.”

As one of Williamson’s best friends, Keira Walsh has come up with her through the England age groups. She has seen Williamson captain various England youth teams and is now by her side as they embark on their next tournament together.

“She’s been my captain through the age groups so I’m pretty used to it now to be honest,” Walsh said. “I think she’s settled into it really well. You can see when she plays at Arsenal and when she plays at England, she is really comfortable in leading, she has a calming presence on the pitch and I think that’s what she’s trying to bring.

“Steph was a brilliant captain for a number of years but they both lead in different ways. Leah’s a lot younger and I think she’s going to lean on Steph a little bit in the future and learn from her experiences. I’m used to Leah being captain, she was brilliant from the Under-15s to the Under-19s and now the seniors so I think it was a natural progression for her. I’m really proud of her.”

Williamson will lead England out for their opening game at the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 which is against Austria at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening.

By Louise Golby

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