Arsenal's Williamson named England captain for home Euros

Arsenal's Leah Williamson lifts the Arnold Clark Cup after leading England to success

Arsenal's Leah Williamson lifts the Arnold Clark Cup after leading England to success - Credit: PA

Arsenal's Leah Williamson has been named as England captain for the home Euro 2022 tournament that will take place across the country this summer. 

The 25-year-old was confirmed as the new captain on Tuesday afternoon with head coach Sarina Wiegman naming Chelsea’s Millie Bright as vice-captain.

Williamson was the team's skipper for recent games, including the Arnold Clark Cup which England won with Steph Houghton out injured.

England are undefeated under Wiegman, with seven wins and two draws in her nine games in charge. They could seal qualification for the 2023 World Cup if they beat North Macedonia and Northern Ireland in their upcoming qualifiers and Northern Ireland draw with Austria.

Speaking about the appointment of Williamson as England captain, Wiegman hailed the Arsenal defender as a 'great leader'.

"This decision gives us continuity at this important final period as we build towards the tournament. It is important we give everyone clarity at this stage," said Wiegman. 

"Leah has been a great leader for us and I know she will continue to set the example we need in her work on and off the pitch. 

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"While I know this is significant news for our fans, for me the most important thing is that we work hard in training and perform to the best we can in our matches as a team. The main thing is we are ready for our World Cup qualifiers and then the Euro this summer.

"She joins a proud list of England captains and will be following in the footsteps of the likes of the first captain Sheila Parker but also her predecessor Steph Houghton who have all been integral for the women's game."

Williamson, in a video posted on England's Twitter account, said: "I think it’s the biggest honour in football. To even have my name associated with the captaincy is very, very special and something I will never take for granted.

"Sarina called me in just before lunch yesterday. She told me her plans and asked if I wanted to step into the role and I laughed – a nervous laugh. She doesn’t make it a massive thing and I like it that way. Obviously, I accepted.

"Although I will be wearing the armband, I know we have a squad full of leaders who share my pride and passion in playing for our country. 

"Whether I am captain or not, I will never take anything for granted and will always do my best for England every time I pull on the shirt.

"For me to wear an England badge would have always been enough; for me to get on the pitch and start in a tournament is an incredible achievement and something I’ve not done for England.

"I’ve been lucky enough to play while Steph’s been the captain here and she’s led the team to the position we’re in now, amongst the best in the world and the legacy she has left behind is tough footsteps to follow in. 

"I hope that I do the armband and the shirt proud and live up to the standards set."

The Lionesses begin their Euro 2022 campaign on Wednesday, July 6 against Austria at Old Trafford.
England also face Norway and Northern Ireland in the group stage of the competition, on July 11 and 15 respectively at St Mary’s in Southampton.

Houghton, meanwhile, is focusing on her recovery from an Achilles injury in order to be fit for the summer. She has also released a statement about giving up the armband to Williamson.

"The past 12 months have been very difficult from a football perspective," Houghton said in a statement on Twitter. 

"In trying to overcome a number of injuries, Sarina and the England staff have been hugely supportive but with the injuries, I understand and respect Sarina's decision to name a new captain.

"The captaincy is being passed on to a very deserving and driven leader in Leah Williamson, with all the attributes an England captain needs to be successful and I have no doubt she will be.

"I will give total support to Leah and will be there for her, with any help or advice she may need, similarly to that I received from Casey Stoney and Faye White."