Women's Team

White: I feel like a kid again!

Emerging as ceremony smoke rose to clouds above a record attendance, record goalscorer Ellen White marked her sixth major tournament as England began their Euros hopes with a win against Austria.

Amid a Manchester adorned with Lionesses’ murals and billboards, fresh from fan parks, flooded 68,771 fans into Old Trafford, the first of several records to be smashed within the first few days of the tournament.

With the first matchday wrapped up, the favourites having made their marks and making way for the next round, White reflects on a game-changing week for women’s football.

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“It was an incredible occasion,” she said. “The noise was absolutely insane. We’re really thankful for everyone coming out. Hopefully, everyone was proud of this team.

“I feel like a kid again. As soon as I walk into that changing room and the shirts are all out, it’s an incredible feeling.

“To play for your country, to walk out there and sing the national anthem; I hope you can see the emotion, the pride, and the passion we all feel playing for England.

“It’s a real privilege. It’s something I want to grab hold of, and I don’t want to miss it.”

The City forward was accompanied in the starting line-up by clubmate Lauren Hemp, who looked bright against a resolute Austrian defence. White tipped the four-time PFA Young Player of the Year to hit the headlines.

“It’s a dream, she is phenomenal and doesn’t know how good she is,” White declared.

“It’s great for us and we are super happy she is part of this team. It’s a dream to play for club and country. Hopefully, everyone in the world will see her shine.

“I feel very lucky to be part of this team that has such a great balance of youth and experience. This is the most competitive Euros we have ever had.”

England’s win was hard-fought against an Austrian side frustrating to play by design. Opening games are never easy, not least in unprecedented territory for many of the players or anyone before them, as White explained.

“68,000 people and the opening game of the Euros, I’d be worried if you weren’t nervous,” she said. “Maybe we could have scored a few more goals and made some better decisions in that final third but ultimately, it’s room for us to grow in this tournament.

“It was only game one. We will continue to grow. We have been wanting to improve and develop and hopefully you’ll see that on Monday.”

Their next opponents Norway, who ran out 4-1 winners Northern Ireland last Thursday, will pose another test. The Lionesses’ last competitive meeting against the Norwegians came in the 2019 World Cup quarter-finals, where White netted in a 3-0 victory. 

“Three years have passed, both teams have changed quite a bit,” she reflected, “and there’s been a lot of change within the England setup. Sarina (Wiegman) has been in since September, and she’s helped with the vision.”

Another change since then has been the emergence of City’s Norwegian 20-year-old Julie Blakstad, who opened the scoring in her major tournament debut at St Mary’s.

“She scored a great goal,” White continued. “She’s a lovely person and a great talent and still so young. She’s got great speed and she’s been a great addition to Norway and City. It’s going to be exciting to see her at this tournament.

“It’s a really tough group. We’ve analysed the Austria game and worked on the areas we wanted to improve, possessing the ball and in the final third wanting to be more clinical.

“We want to go into this Norway game and hopefully put on a big performance. They’re a great side, they have some amazing players. They had a pretty good start; I went out to get food and they were 2-0 up! It’s a big, big game and we’re excited.”

Juliet Nottingham is a Football Journalism student at the University of Derby who are reporting on the Women’s Euros.

Watch City’s European stars in action at the Academy Stadium next season. Find out more.

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