How Arsenal defender Leah Williamson took Tokyo by storm
- Credit: PA
Leah Williamson lived a dream of many this summer by being an Olympian following her selection for the Team GB squad in Tokyo.
The 24-year-old from Milton Keynes was in the Olympic Village for London 2012 as a spectator but this summer she made her own history by being selected for the games.
The Arsenal defender has a stone outside Wembley Stadium with her name engraved on it along with brother Jacob – so passionate and proud about representing her country.
Hege Riise called her up to represent Team GB in Japan and the Gunners fan favourite didn't look back, taking Tokyo by storm with a number of top class performances.
After another consistent season at Meadow Park, helping Arsenal qualify for the Champions League, Williamson's selection was certainly justified.
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Williamson was on the bench for the opening game against Chile, as an Ellen White brace gave Team GB a 2-0 win.
However, on matchday two against host nation Japan it was revealed that the former PFA young player of the year was starting in a game that would require immense concentration.
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In that match the world got a glimpse of her quality as Williamson put in a tremendous performance, taking to the game like a duck to water.
Confident and commanding in her passing, the 24-year-old was a key part in the 1-0 win thanks to a second half White goal. With her alongside Steph Houghton, Team GB looked unbreakable defensively.
Williamson showed her quality on the ball, spraying passes around and moving the Japanese midfield around, and was commanding when balls got crossed into the box.
She willhave made an impression on Sarina Wiegman, who will become England manager in September and will have watched Team GB in action.
Assured on the ball, she showed that she has the defensive qualities to match and can handle the pressure on the biggest stage.
Against Canada in the final group game, Williamson retained her place in the side but this time was paired alongside Millie Bright. Once again she stood out, with another impressive display.
It was the game where many believe the versatile defender really made her mark on the tournament, winning her individual battles and making crucial, last-ditch blocks.
She had key battles with West Ham's Adriana Leon and NJ/NY Gotham's Evelyne Veins, who was playing as a lone striker.
In the group stage, Williamson played 210 passes – the joint most with Australia's Emily van Egmond.
The final game saw Team GB exit the competition to the Aussies but once again Williamson shone, starting at centre-back before ending the game at left-back.
Her long throw gave her an assist to put Team GB 2-1 ahead in the game which ended as a 4-3 defeat.
That throw will certainly have been added to new Arsenal head coach Jonas Eidevall's notes ahead of the new 2021-22 season.
After the first goal for Australia, Williamson's frustration was visible but she regained her composure quickly and put in another excellent display.
When shifted into left-back Williamson showed the attitude of a born leader and winner, doing the job asked of her by Hege Riise immaculately.
Although Team GB did not win a medal Williamson's already high stock rose even further and with Euro 2022 just a year away has really brought herself into contention for an England starting spot.
2021 will be remembered by many Arsenal and Team GB fans as the summer that Leah Williamson took Tokyo by storm.