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27 June 2022

Leah Williamson embracing responsibility of leading hosts England at Euro 2022

27 June 2022

Leah Williamson says she feels a sense of “responsibility rather than pressure” as she prepares to captain England at a home Euros.

The 25-year-old has also spoken about how she has been taking note of the behaviour of other captains, including England cricket skipper Ben Stokes.

Having been given the armband by boss Sarina Wiegman in a number of games through the season in the absence of the injured Steph Houghton, Williamson was then confirmed as Lionesses captain for this summer’s Euros in April.

She heads into the showpiece with her previous senior major tournament experience featuring one substitute appearance at the 2019 World Cup in France, as well as playing three times for Great Britain at the Tokyo Olympics last year.

Leah Williamson is embracing the responsibility of leading England at the Euros (Zac Goodwin/PA) (PA Wire)

And when asked about the pressure of going from that brief World Cup cameo to the current situation, the Arsenal defender said: “It’s funny. I think on paper it looks like a pressurised situation, but I don’t feel that at the minute. I’m still finding my way with it.

“I’m not pretending to know all the answers – maybe it’s because I’m not pretending to know the answers, or to be the most ready I’ve ever been. I’ve got processes in place I’ve been using for the last however long in my career for dealing with pressure and things like that.

“It’s not that I’ve been put on a pedestal, I’m just the same, it’s just I have this extra responsibility. And I take it more as a responsibility rather than pressure.

“I do feel like I would have given anything to get on the pitch (with England), so I don’t intend to waste a second now not enjoying it.

“The influence all the people I’ve played under has had on me is quite a nice mix. I’ve had leaders on the pitch, off the pitch, and I’ve had quite a lot of influence from all of those people.

“I do like observing other captains and seeing how they behave and then seeing what kind of character, person and player I am.

“For example, I watched Ben Stokes the other day and I was listening to his presentation and what he wants from his team, so to speak. It’s not the same conversation (I might have) but in terms of those little nuggets of information I think it really helped.”

England were recently in camp at St George’s Park at the same time as the men’s side.

Williamson added: “I didn’t actually get a chance to speak to Harry (Kane) which would have been really good, but maybe I will do (in the future).

“I spoke to Kieran Trippier for quite a long time when they invited us to speak with him and Declan (Rice). It was nice, just hearing what they went through (during their Euros last summer) so we can be proactive.”

Sarina Wiegman is unbeaten as England manager (Nick Potts/PA) (PA Wire)

Williamson is working under a manager in Wiegman who guided the Netherlands to Euro 2017 glory, then the 2019 World Cup final and has so far had an unbeaten England tenure – with all but two games won – since taking charge last September.

“Sarina knows what she wants and she’s very, very clear about it. She is a matter-of-fact person and doesn’t really leave many grey areas which I think is a real strength,” Williamson added.

“I have small chats (with her) and I’ll speak about things that need to be spoken about, but it’s not forced and if she needs any information, I’m here and if not, we just kind of facilitate whatever she wants to do. The team is self-sufficient and she’s so clear about what she wants. It’s working well.”

England complete their warm-up fixtures against Switzerland on Thursday, then take on Austria at a sold-out Old Trafford in the opening game of the Euros on July 6, an experience Williamson is keen to share with her family.

Williamson said: “I’ve told (her family) I can never repay the investment they’ve made in me, the money, the time and everything.

“I can never ever, repay that other than giving them experiences, whether it’s them coming to indoor games to watch me or coming to Old Trafford with 70,000 fans. That’s the only way I can ever pay them back, and I’m happy for them that they’re getting to experience that a little more now.

“When my family came to France I had 10 or more people coming to every single game there and yet I played (only a few) minutes. But doesn’t change (anything) as they would be just as proud of me, and for them to be able really to enjoy it now is nice.”

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