Bethany England eager to shine at World Cup having felt wasted at Chelsea
Bethany England says she stayed longer than she should have at Chelsea feeling “wasted” as the striker looks to take her fine form for Tottenham into the World Cup.
After an impressive 2019-20 campaign with the Blues which saw her named PFA player of the year, the 29-year-old subsequently found herself in and out of their starting line-up, and was part of it only twice in the first half of the 2022-23 Women’s Super League season.
She subsequently made a January move to Tottenham, went on to score 12 goals in as many league starts and earned an England recall – her first involvement since last September – when boss Sarina Wiegman named her squad in May for this summer’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
England said: “They (Chelsea) brought Sam Kerr in halfway through the (2019-20) season and I built up a great relationship playing with Sam, and then obviously it didn’t transpire to the next season where we didn’t play with a front two.
“Emma (Hayes, the Chelsea manager) opted for singular number nine, which made my chances much more difficult based off Sam being who she is – and she is a prolific goalscorer.
“So it was hard to kind of fight my way back in from that point and I think I probably overstayed maybe a year, a year-and-a-half too long, where I felt like I was just wasted there, and I wasn’t being used enough.
“It was a very difficult time, but I think I built up a lot of resilience from that and was able to take that into other scenarios in football.”
England, who joined Chelsea in 2016 and scored a total of 74 goals for them, added: “I think there was ultimately lots of reasons why I left, the World Cup being one of them.
“I think the move has paid off for me and, as you would say, (it has been) vindicated. Ultimately, I think if I had stayed where I was, sat on the bench, I would never be here today.”
England’s wait for an international recall initially went on after the January transfer despite her hitting goals for Spurs from the off, and she said: “I didn’t get selected for the (February) Arnold Clark Cup, and then I went and scored against Manchester United (running with the ball) from the halfway line.
“I think that was my ‘have some of that’ type thing. It was more like: ‘Look, I know I am good enough’.
“But equally, I had to balance not focusing too much on what was going on (with England), because ultimately if I didn’t do the job at club level, I wouldn’t have been here.”
Having continued to flourish with Tottenham, England, who was a member of Wiegman’s Euro 2022-winning squad as an unused substitute, is now among three main number nine options in the World Cup 23, along with Alessia Russo and Rachel Daly.
“I want to help the team and put the ball in the net, however they may go in,” said England, who has scored 11 goals in 21 international appearances.
“The biggest thing I would say is leading into the World Cup Sarina has been able to see me more, playing regularly, scoring goals.
“I am hoping, as a collective, everyone can see what qualities I can bring. They know I can bring that to this team and hopefully I am put in a position where I can help showcase that.
“I think me and Alessia are very different players. I would say I am more similar with Rachel. I think we are all great in our own way and whatever tactics suit the game at that time is going to showcase that.
“It’s a tough decision because we have all got different qualities, but whoever Sarina chooses to go for is her preference.”
England open their campaign by playing Haiti in Brisbane on Saturday.
Published: by Radio NewsHub