On Tuesday evening, England’s Lionesses emphatically put themselves through to the Euro 2022 Wembley Final by taking a fabulous, and solidly comprehensive 4-0 victory over strong favourites Sweden at a packed Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane.
Given former England favourites, and now legends in the Women’s game, Kelly Smith and Faye White, had recently picked their ultimate European Championships XI – there is a certain irony that one of those chosen by the pair actually got themselves on the scoresheet.
In more recent years, everyone can see the standard in the game has gone up and with increased and more loyal support, fans will only expect the standard to go up even further as the game continues to grow – but that is not to mean that in former years there have not been some absolutely all time greats on a pitch previously, and in the Betway interview, Smith and White pick out those that made the grade for them and with over 200 combined international caps between them, they know what they are talking about.
For the spot between the all important sticks, the former England pair agreed on Nadine Angerer – a former German international now coaching in the game, noting that she ‘sticks out as the best’.
For defence, they went with a traditional back four with England’s second goalscorer, Lucy Bronze in as right fullback. Between them they explain.
“I think right back there’s only one, one for me. It would be Lucy. Lucy Bronze has been fantastic for a number of years now. It’s the mindset, it’s the attitude as well. I want to be the best.”
Joining European Championship Finalist Bronze in the backline were versatile centre half is fellow German and Fox Sports Analyst Ariane Hingst, former French skipper Wendie Renard. Smith makes it clear that Renard was one of the ‘toughest’ she ever played against in her own career. To complete the defence and occupy the left back spot, Swedish and current Chelsea player Magdalena Eriksson is chosen.
For the selections in midfield, it is another German who makes the cut in the shape of Renate Lingor as the pair highlight her ball skills and dribbling ability. Joining her as the chosen ‘Number 10’ is another German, but a current Olympique Lyonnais star, Dzsenifer Marozsan describing the 30-year-old as someone who ‘sees the game differently’. To complete that three the final player selected is current Norwegian national team coach and former World Cup winner (1995) Hege Riise.
For their perfect frontline, the first pick was former German top scorer at the 2003 World Cup, Birgit Prinze – stating ‘The one striker that sticks out. What she’s left legacy wise. Best forward ever, I believe.’
Taking the second spot in the top three was current Arsenal and Netherlands striker Vivianne Miedema, and for anyone who does not know, she is only 22-years-old yet has already taken the title of top scorer in her countries history.
Completing the three, and many may well think predictably, the pair pick former England winger Smith herself, who saw her jersey retired when she hung up her own boots.
With the improvement that England have made since Smith’s own international days, admirably proven by reaching their first final since 2009 and only their third European Championships in total, whilst this team would prove to be formidable, picks made in even five years time will undoubtedly overlook some of these legends.