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Ellen White retires as tributes pour in for record-breaking England striker

England v Germany – UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 – Final – Wembley Stadium
(Image credit: Nigel French)

Ellen White has been hailed as “the best of the best”, a “perfect team player” and an “inspiration for the next generation” of women’s footballers after announcing her retirement from the game.

England striker White admitted her football “dreams came true” in winning Euro 2022 as she hung up her boots on Monday evening. The Lionesses’ record scorer has called time on her career aged 33, with 52 goals in 113 senior caps.

The Manchester City forward, who still had a year left on her contract, branded forging a professional career her “greatest honour”, insisting it was the right time to call it quits.

White revealed she had agonised over retiring, but eventually felt England’s glittering summer success would prove the ideal time to bow out.

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“This has been one of the hardest decisions of my life but one that I know is the right decision for me,” said White.

“This decision has always been one I have wanted to make on my terms. And this is my time to say goodbye to football and watch the next generation shine.

“It has been my greatest honour and privilege to play this game. In particular playing for England has and always will be the greatest gift.

“My dreams came true on July 31, winning the Euros and becoming a European champion.”

White was just one goal shy of Wayne Rooney’s all-time scoring record for England as her two goals during the Euros finals saw her fall just short of catching the former Manchester United striker.

Three Lions striker Harry Kane, who is likely to eclipse both in the coming years to top the scoring charts for his country, was in no doubt as to the impact White has had.

“Congratulations on an amazing career @ellsbells89 and what a way to finish! A real inspiration for the next generation of Lionesses,” he tweeted.

England head coach Sarina Wiegman paid tribute to a “world-class” operator, who played a vital role in the Euros triumph.

“Ellen has given so much for England and we are all so proud of her,” said the Dutchwoman.

“I have only had the pleasure of working with her for this past year, but her professionalism, work rate and finishing ability is world-class.

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“This summer she did an amazing job for the team, she is the perfect team player and helped the younger players to find their way in international football.

“I already knew she was a great player but I found an even better person. We will miss her, but I fully understand her decision to take a new direction.”

Tributes and praise also flooded in from team-mates, past and present, with Beth Mead – winner of the golden boot and best player award at the Euros – leading the way.

“Words can’t describe how proud & lucky I am to have called you a team mate but also a friend. The biggest professional and goal scorer. The game didn’t deserve you but you’ll be missed greatly. @ellsbells89 my hero,” she wrote.

Fellow Euro 2022 winner Rachel Daly was also quick to praise White’s contribution to the game, tweeting: “The absolute best of the best. Thank you, Ellen. You truly are (one) of a kind. I’m so excited for your future and so proud of everything you’ve achieved.”

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Caroline Weir, a former City team-mate of White whose goal for Real Madrid sent the Blues crashing out of the Champions League qualifiers, simply posted: “Legend.”

Baroness Sue Campbell, director of women’s football at the Football Association, continued the plaudits.

“Ellen White will long be remembered as a model for others to follow,” she said.

“It is not just about her record-breaking 52 goals and performances on the pitch, but about the standards she set and the way she conducts herself.

“A true leader of women, it has never been about Ellen White for her – even when she was scoring the crucial goals or giving everything she had, it was always the team first. She is a legend of the modern game.”

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