We’re gearing up for another summer of football fever and now we know the women who will be taking centre stage at the Women’s World Cup
If you thought football was close to coming home last summer, this year it might just be even more likely with the England Lionesses ranked third in the world. On 8 May, the players who will be competing in the FIFA Women’s World Cup were unveiled, and the announcement was done in style with everyone from Emma Watson, to David Beckham to Prince William in on the excitement.
In a series of videos on Twitter and Instagram, players were announced one by one through specially recorded announcements from celebrities and football stars. Prince William kicked things off telling Steph Houghton, the team captain, that she’d be going to France. He said: “It gives me great pleasure to be able to announce that England’s defensive rock and captain, Steph Houghton, will be on the plane to France.”
Another video showed Emma Watson in a bluebell wood, revealing a t-shirt with the face of defender Demi Stokes printed on it. David Beckham announced that Nikita Parris would wear the number 7 shirt, the same number he used to wear when playing for England and Alex Scott, broadcaster and former England player herself, told Lucy Bronze she was in the squad in a video filmed pitch-side at Wembley.
Other celebrities including Ellie Goulding, James Corden, Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Greg James sent messages to players and wished the team good luck. Even footballers such as Raheem Stirling, Jordan Pickford, Kelly Smith and Alan Shearer recorded selection messages.
For eleven of the players, this will be their first time competing in the World Cup, while Karen Carney and Jill Scott will be taking to the pitch for their fourth competition when the Lionesses play their first match in June against Scotland.
In a statement, head coach Phil Neville said: “Picking a squad is never easy but I believe in this group and I know they will be ready to help us perform at our very best at the finals. We know what we are capable of achieving and are determined to do all we can to be successful. We keep saying it but the hard work starts now and we are going to give it everything we have to make the nation proud.”
The popularity and coverage of women’s football is on the rise. This announcement comes only days after Manchester City defeated West Ham to win the Women’s FA Cup in front of crowds of over 43,000 spectators at Wembley with 2.2 million people tuning in on to watch the match on the BBC.
Having such a diverse, high-profile bunch of celebs throwing their weight behind the squad only increases the excitement surrounding this summer’s tournament. Whisper it, but football might just be coming home.
The full 23-player Women’s World Cup line up is: