The experience of celebrating England’s Euro 2022 win alone in a hotel room three-and-a-half thousand miles away has made Ebony Salmon determined to make sure she is on the pitch for the next major success.
Salmon, called up by Sarina Wiegman for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Austria and Luxembourg, is not a newcomer to the England squad, but the cap she earned in a friendly against Northern Ireland in February 2021 remains her only one to date.
Now the 21-year-old forward is back in a squad looking to make up for the loss of record goalscorer Ellen White, whose retirement has opened the door for Salmon to stake her claim as England seek the point they need to confirm their World Cup place.
When the Lionesses were beating Germany 2-1 after extra time at Wembley to lift the Euro 2022 trophy at Wembley on July 31, Salmon was preparing for the Houston Dash’s match against Gotham FC in Harrison, New Jersey later that day.
She had her own quiet celebration alone before heading to the Red Bull Arena, where she scored the last of Houston’s goals in a 4-2 win – but the day increased her desire to return to the international arena.
“Any footballer wants to be part of those big moments,” she said. “You want to be part of every moment leading up to it but the end goal is those major tournaments. For me it makes me so much hungrier to push on and be part of those squads in the future.”
Salmon’s only England appearance to date lasted a few minutes as she replaced Rachel Daly in the 84th minute of the friendly against Northern Ireland 18 months ago.
Hege Riise was in interim charge that day, but Wiegman was soon in touch after her appointment to give Salmon a clear idea of what she needed to do to get back.
Salmon describes herself as a direct, pacey forward, but admits she must add consistency to her game. Eight goals in 14 games since joining Houston in June suggest that is coming, and earned a return to the England set-up.
“(Wiegman) told me what I needed to work on, the things she saw as my strengths but also the stuff holding me back and from being part of this environment,” Salmon said of their conversation last year.
“The main thing was going back to my club, doing what I do well but doing it consistently. Recently I’ve been in that form which has earned me that call-up.”
Salmon is the only player based outside of Europe in Wiegman’s squad. She came through at Aston Villa before spells with Manchester United, Sheffield United and Bristol City.
She packed up for the United States last year to join Racing Louisville, where a frustrating start to this season led to a switch to Houston which has brought swift dividends.
With White announcing her retirement last week, Salmon now has a chance to stake her claim to a regular spot in the national team.
“Ellen has obviously done huge things for the game and big things for women’s football and to go out on such a high was really good for her,” Salmon said. “It leaves a spot open in the team that hasn’t been open as it is now for years.
“It creates more competition. There are a lot of really good players fighting for that spot. For me, if I can work on what I need to work on, being around these players in camp is only going to make me a better player.”
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1