Ellen White: The quiet girl from Aylesbury who retires as a European champion

Ellen White leaves football as European champion, England’s all-time leading goalscorer and with the praise of her peers, team-mates and royalty in her ears.

But the 33-year-old, a calm presence in the dressing room, is likely to find all the kind words and attention that followed her shock announcement on Monday quite uncomfortable.

White’s retirement means her last appearance was in England’s final success at Euro 2022 against Germany – the country’s first major trophy in either men’s or women’s football since 1966.

England’s Ellen White with the trophy after defeating Germany in the final of Euro 2022 (Danny Lawson/PA)

(PA wire)

She had come a long way since September 1998, when the Aylesbury girl made headlines in the Bucks Herald.

“Ellen was in tears and really upset,” her father said after White was prevented from playing on a local team.

“For her, it’s not about being female, it’s about playing football.”

(PA graphic)

(PA graphic)

She would certainly make a name for herself in the sport.

White came through Arsenal’s youth department at the age of eight before moving from London to Chelsea at the age of 16, where she was top scorer for three straight seasons.

This was followed by a move north to Leeds Carnegie and a first stint in England, which she typically scored with a goal, before being lured back to north London in 2010 with the rise of the Women’s Super League.

Arsenal had already won seven consecutive English titles when White joined them in 2010 and she would add to her medal collection during her time with the Gunners.

In White’s first season at the club, she scored six goals in 13 games as the Gunners won the League Cup, Women’s FA Cup and WSL.

White represented Great Britain at the 2012 Olympics and was selected by England for the 2011 World Cup – and was also named England’s Player of the Year.

She joined Notts County on a three-year deal, but a major setback came when an ACL injury forced her to miss the entire 2014 WSL season.

However, she didn’t let that stop her as she moved to Birmingham in 2017, leading to another purposeful chapter in her domestic career.

But it was at the 2019 World Championships that White really burst onto the world stage.

Ellen White’s famous goal celebration became a regular feature in England games (John Walton/PA)

(PA Archive)

White scored in England’s opening game against Scotland and didn’t look back, finishing as the Lionesses’ all-time leading scorer and the Bronze Boot – finishing with the same number of goals but fewer assists than US duo Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan.

Manchester City challenged White in May 2019 but another knee injury required surgery which ruled them out for the first three months of the season.

She returned to win a second Women’s FA Cup and play in SheBelieves Cup defense for England, but was suspended in March 2020.

Wasting no time during the coronavirus-enforced lockdown, she studied the best in the world to find an extra edge.

“I’m just trying to improve and develop,” she told the PA news agency back in April 2020 after brooding over Erling Haaland, Harry Kane and Jamie Vardy.

I like to watch different strikers. Haaland is different from Kane, who is different from Vardy. Just something else that I can really add to my game, I’m just trying to get better.

Ellen White

“I looked at how they receive the ball, how they move in and around the penalty area, how they create their own space and get the ball… their shots, how they get that half-metre.

“I like to look at different strikers. Haaland is different from Kane, who is different from Vardy. Just something else that I can really add to my game, I’m just trying to get better.

When football returned, she became only the second WSL player to score 50 goals from a brace in Manchester City’s 8-1 win over Bristol City.

And in England’s first game since the pandemic, White scored a hat-trick in the 6-0 win over Northern Ireland and got going as England began a new era under Sarina Wiegman.

She scored five goals in total while England had 32 in just four World Cup qualifiers, adding another by winning their 100th cap against Austria, and breaking Kelly Smith’s goalscoring record for England with an early brace against Latvia.

She remained Wiegman’s first-choice forward as she progressed to the finals of the Women’s EURO, scoring twice in their 8-0 group-stage win over Norway.

As the goals dried up, Wiegman believed in White and she started every game on the run to victory.

Beth Mead, Harry Kane, Wiegman and even the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge congratulated White on her career.

Always humble, she said goodbye, “This is for the next generation and possibly the next lioness. You don’t have to be the best at something to make your dreams come true. Just look at me.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/ellen-white-harry-kane-sarina-wiegman-aylesbury-beth-mead-b2150394.html Ellen White: The quiet girl from Aylesbury who retires as a European champion

Fry Electronics Team

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