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England Women’s captain: who will be leading the squad during the Euros?

England Women's captain: Leah Williamson
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There has been a change in who the England Women’s captain will be for this summer’s Women's Euro 2022

New manager Sarina Wiegman made the decision to relieve Steph Houghton of her duties as England captain ahead of the tournament, with Houghton having led the Lionesses since 2014. Under Houghton’s leadership, England have reached three consecutive tournament semi-finals but she had not played a minute for her country since Wiegman’s appointment in September due to injury. In fact, the Manchester City defender didn't even make the final England Women's Euro 2022 squad.

In Houghton’s place, Wiegman has selected Leah Williamson to be her captain. The Arsenal defender initially took on the role for both the World Cup qualifying campaign and the Arnold Clark Cup, but has been permanently handed the armband for the Euros.

England Women’s captain: Who is Leah Williamson?

Twenty-five-year-old Leah Williamson has not historically been an England regular. She only played seven minutes at the 2019 World Cup, and as a centre-back, has often found herself behind Steph Houghton and Millie Bright in the pecking order. However, Wiegman has predominantly used Williamson in midfield alongside Keira Walsh, allowing her to play Bright and Alex Greenwood in defence – a decision reiterated by the FA's designation of Williamson as a midfielder in the squad's official announcment.

Williamson is a life-long Arsenal fan and has made 120 appearances for her childhood club, having joined them when she was nine years old. There, she is one of their main leaders on the pitch, often taking the armband if club captain Kim Little is unavailable. Williamson made her first-team debut for Arsenal back in 2014, aged 17, before signing her first professional contract the year after when she turned 18. That same year, she was named England’s Youth Player of the Year. 

In 2015, Williamson also famously had to retake a penalty five days after she had originally scored it. 

In a U19 Euro qualifier, Williamson scored a penalty, only to see it disallowed because of encroachment. Instead of allowing England to retake it, the referee had given the opposition a free-kick. Following England’s complaints, UEFA ordered the game to be replayed from when the penalty was awarded. Williamson came back and scored the penalty again, ensuring England secured a place at the UEFA under-19 Championships.

Leah Williamson has only made 27 senior appearances for England, scoring twice, but was previously selected as part of Phil Neville’s 2019 World Cup squad. She also played a significant role for Team GB at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, appearing in three matches. It is testament to her skill and leadership qualities that Wiegman sees her as being ready to lead England at a home Euros.

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Jessy Parker Humphreys

Jessy Parker Humphreys is a freelance women's football writer. A Chelsea fan, Jessy has been following the women's game since being taken to the 2003/04 FA Cup final at Loftus Road and seeing Arsenal thrash Jessy's local side Charlton. Fortunately, Arsenal don't win quite as much as they used to – although Jessy hopes Charlton will also be back at the top of the women's game one day.