Friday, September 29, 2023

I worked in a chippy while training for football dream – now I’m in an England World Cup finalist

Most footballers starting their senior career are already on a healthy salary and beginning to live the high life the sport can offer.

But that wasn’t the case for many Lionesses, who spent the earlier stages of their careers working odd jobs as they waited for opportunities.

England has shone at the World Cup where she and her teammates carry the hopes of a nation against SpainGetty

England and Tottenham centre forward Bethany England in particular spent four years playing for Barnsley’s youth team before moving to an all-girls team after being scouted by Sheffield United’s women’s academy.

She then signed for Doncaster Belles at 16 years old, soon establishing herself in their first team.

But as England was working her way up with the Yorkshire outfit, she was also balancing doing A Levels and doing shifts in a Barnsley chippy.

With shift patterns ranging from 9pm to 5am, England had the task of cleaning up the city centre’s night life’s food on a regular basis.

What’s even more jaw-dropping is she would often have to work on match days, sometimes having just three hours sleep before heading off to bang in goals for the Belles.

But her hard graft serving up cod and chips paid off big time, with her earning a move to Women’s Super League giants Chelsea in 2016 after helping Doncaster to promotion.

“Everyone’s journey is different,” England said in 2020. “I can’t say mine has been easy. It’s just been a long old roll, just putting myself out there, trying to prove myself.

“I have always been a grafter. My parents brought me up to never give up and be a worker.”

England’s journey to World Cup finalist has taken Doncaster Belles while working in the chippy at the same timeGetty

At Chelsea, she won the WSL four times before leaving to join TottenhamGetty

England’s goals helped Spurs avoid relegation last season after joining for a club record in JanuaryGetty

After netting 99 goals in the WSL for the Blues and being hailed as the best English no.9 during her time there by manager Emma Hayes, England moved to Tottenham for domestic women’s transfer record of £250,000 this summer, playing a huge role in helping Spurs swerve relegation.

Down under, the 29-year-old has proved to be a fantastic attacking option for the Lionesses in their run to the World Cup final, coming on against Denmark, China, Nigeria and Colombia.

Now, she has the chance to lift the World Cup trophy with her country this Sunday, as the Lionesses go up against Spain to try and make history, live on talkSPORT.

But regardless of the result, not everyone can say they went from frying fish to World Cup finalist.

Listen to live talkSPORT commentary of the Women’s World Cup final between England and Spain at 11am on Sunday

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