Euro 2022 ones to watch: England maestro Beth Mead

The Arsenal striker’s clinical finishing and capacity to assist team-mates will make her a real threat as part of the Lionesses’ attack on the biggest stage, writes Ruby Malone.

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Name: Beth Mead               Club: Arsenal                    Age: 27 years old

Senior caps: 37                    Goals: 20

Beth Mead responded to her disheartening omission from the Tokyo 2020 Team GB squad by reaching new levels in the Women’s Super League last season. Now to complete her inspirational resurgence, she has secured a place in the 23-strong England squad for next month’s Euros.

The Arsenal forward says she learned to channel her energy better after going into the 2021/22 campaign fuelled by the disappointment of rejection.

“I’m obviously a little bit more confident than I probably was last season,” she said recently. “Hopefully I can take that into the Euros. I’m in a good place, I’m in a good headspace, my football has been good, so I’m just trying to channel that energy in the right way.”

Mead developed a reputation as one of England’s most promising stars before she had even left her teens behind, representing the national team at every level from Under-15s. She was twice named Vauxhall England Young Player of the Year and was awarded the PFA Women’s Young Player of the Year award in 2016.

After scoring a staggering 77 goals in 78 games for Sunderland, Mead signed for Arsenal in 2017. It was here that she was moved from her then-preferred number 9 position into a wide forward role. This proved a revelation, allowing her to utilise her pace, showcase her versatility, and gift team-mates the joy of benefiting from her altruism. Expect to see the selfless forward create chances aplenty for the Lionesses on the Euros stage next month.

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Mead broke the WSL’s all-time assist record during Arsenal’s 3-0 victory over Everton in April, securing her 36th assist in the top flight and surpassing Karen Carney’s record. She has also produced an impressive 12 goals and 12 assists in as many appearances for the Lionesses under their new manager, Sarina Wiegman. If she can continue this form at the Euros, England will certainly be strong contenders for the trophy.

These numbers demonstrate the hard work, passion, and determination that underpin Mead’s style of play. Goal contributions aren’t the only benefits either — her pressing and tackling stats are amongst the highest at Arsenal, which is remarkable for a forward. Her work ethic and tenacity will be vital for the Lionesses as they come up against tough opposition, including rivals the Netherlands, who won the tournament in 2017, and two-times champions Norway.

A self-proclaimed “confidence player”, Mead is humble, resilient and all about the team. In addition to her hard work and impressive numbers, her versatility allows her to swap wings with ease and her tenacious counter-press can keep the defences of even eight-times champions Germany and talented Spain on their toes should they all progress.

Career high: Mead will be relishing the prospect of putting Northern Ireland to the sword again in the Euros group stages. Undoubtedly, one of Mead’s career highs came with her first international hat-trick in England’s 4-0 win over Northern Ireland in October 2021. In doing so, the forward became the first woman in history to score a trio at Wembley Stadium in a competitive game for England. In true Mead style, she scored all three goals in under 15 minutes.

She said at the time: “I think it has got to be up there [with the best moments of my career]. To score a hat-trick for your country at Wembley is probably one of the proudest moments for me and my family.”

Best finish: Mead has a roster of impressive finishes, but one that stands out for putting her on the map is her cross-shot in England’s 2-1 victory over Brazil in the 2019 SheBelieves Cup. A few weeks later, she scored an almost identical goal in Arsenal’s 5-1 victory over Liverpool, inspiring fans to patent it the “CROT”.

Did you know? Mead herself has admitted that the ‘angry Meado’ some team-mates refer to does, in fact, exist! She recognises that it’s a part of her game and that she often plays her best football when angry.

She told SheKicks: “I figured out [that’s when] I think less on the pitch, which makes me more decisive in everything I’m doing.”

Follow Ruby on Twitter @RubyGMalone

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