A record Ellen White 2022 would trigger a paradigm shift in the perception of women’s football, says former England star Kelly Smith.
White could equal Wayne Rooney’s record 53 goals for England on Wednesday if she scores against Spain in the quarter-finals.
The Manchester City forward surpassed Smith’s 46-goal tally in November to become the Lionesses’ all-time leading scorer. A brace in England’s 8-0 group stage win over Norway saw him close in on Rooney’s total.
While White herself prefers to draw attention to the collective efforts of her top Group A squad, Smith, who has won 117 caps for England, was more than willing to rhapsodize about the Lionesses’ reticent pivot.
She said: “When Ellen broke my record I called her the next day to congratulate her because I know how hard she works. I’ve played with her, I know her as a person, she’s very humble and down to earth.
“She has really worked and developed our game over the past few years and she fully deserves the awards. If she can match Wayne Rooney’s record, that’s just phenomenal because Wayne Rooney was one of the best players to play in an England jersey.
“If she can top that and put her name above him, that only speaks volumes for where women’s football is at the moment and has evolved over the years.
“Having a female footballer above Wayne Rooney will draw a lot of looks because of the level he has reached for England, his class, his technique and his ability to score goals.”
Two more goals for White would propel their two national teams to the top in 11-a-side football, although David Clarke, also inducted into the National Football Museum Hall of Fame, scored 128 for England’s 5-a-side football team scored
Smith, who last represented England as hosts in 2005, spoke on behalf of official sponsor of UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 Hisense as part of his Remember the Name campaign. White is just one of the women Smith is confident will leave a lasting legacy on Sarina Wiegman’s squad, who also boasts Golden Boot contender Beth Mead.
The Arsenal attacker has used her omission at Team GB’s Tokyo 2020 Olympics as fuel to record her five goals and three assists in three games, which lead the tournament.
“She looks like she has the best headroom ever,” Smith said. “When Beth Mead is happy and playing angry, she’s at her best. She certainly delivered at this tournament in that England shirt in every sense of the word.
“This generation, this group of gamers is really making young women and girls want to be like them. They’re household names now, I see young girls along [Leah] Williamson on the shirt and Lucy Bronze, I have to pinch myself sometimes.”
Wednesday’s competition in Brighton sees England meet Group B runners-up Spain, a line-up featuring a sizeable cohort from Barcelona’s 2021 Champions League season.
Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas was sidelined just days before the start of the tournament with an anterior cruciate ligament injury, an absence that could help England in a battle for possession that Smith says will be far tougher than they’ve experienced so far.
If “it’s coming home” was a whisper during the group stage, it’s now at least a loud murmur after the world-ranked eighth-ranked Lionesses beat 11th-ranked Norway in what Smith called “the best performance that I ever labeled. I’ve never seen an international women’s team from England perform on a big stage.”
The expectation at camp, she surmises, is nothing less than reaching the Wembley final on July 31 – one of Smith’s best estimates will be hosting against Germany.
She added: “Hand on heart, I want to say England [to win]. It’s the best group of players I’ve ever seen in terms of technique, understanding of the game, technical ability, fitness and fighting mentality.
“This team looks so hungry for it. teams have in the past [too], but they didn’t have any of those things. You have everything now.”
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https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/england-wayne-rooney-kelly-smith-ellen-white-manchester-city-b2126266.html Euro 2022: Ellen White can change the way women’s football is thought about, claims Kelly Smith