Euro 2022 ones to watch: England’s rising star Lauren Hemp
The young winger’s been racking up domestic awards since bursting on to the scene at just 16 – now she’s tipped to light up the international stage at her first major tournament, writes Ruby Malone.Embed from Getty Images
Name: Lauren Hemp Club: Manchester City Age: 21 years old
Senior caps: 21 Goals: 7
At only 21 years of age, Lauren Hemp is looking to take the Euros by storm after receiving the call-up to her first major tournament for England. Following another outstanding season in the WSL, she has not only secured the title of best young player in the country, but also as one of the first names on the Lionesses’ teamsheet.
Hemp has already set the top tier of women’s football alight, clinching three PFA Women’s Young Player of the Year awards in the last four seasons, and has been touted as a future Ballon d’Or winner. The dynamic winger shines bright amongst a plethora of stars at Manchester City, and it looks like her presence in the England team will be just as important at this Euros.
In 2016, she joined WSL 2 (now the FA Women’s Championship) side Bristol City at barely 16 years old after leaving Norwich City’s Centre of Excellence. She helped the team gain promotion to the WSL in her first season and was voted England’s Young Player of the Year. Not one to do things in halves, Hemp followed this up with her first PFA Women’s Young Player of the Year award in April 2018.
Her performances soon caught the attention of City who signed the 17-year-old the following month. Since then, she has been on the fast-track to stardom, weaving through defences with ease and leaving the WSL’s top defenders stunned in her wake. She will certainly be looking to showcase this dazzling footwork on the big stage next month.
Hemp was called up to England’s senior squad for the 2020 SheBelieves Cup before she had even departed her teens. The following year, she represented Team GB at the Tokyo Olympics and earned the title of the most fouled player at the tournament, with 13 fouls against her in just three matches, but proved she can handle any rough treatment.Embed from Getty Images
The skilful winger’s captivating close control and increasing eye for goal will undoubtedly have a huge impact on England’s performances next month. Expect to see her receiving the ball out wide and showcasing her signature rapid runs down the touchline, playing a key role against tough defences such as Spain, who breezed through the qualifiers conceding just one goal in eight matches.
Hemp’s work rate off the ball is equally impressive – she engages in duels without hesitation, intercepts passes and has a remarkable ability to create chances from nothing. This work ethic and determination is what resulted in the winger carrying Man City through an injury-plagued 2021/22 season, in which obtaining one of the coveted Champions League spots looked doubtful. The confidence, drive and ambition she possesses will be vital for the Lionesses at the Euros, as they must get past two-time champions Norway and 2017 semi-finalists Austria to make it out of the group stages.
Memorable moment: England manager Sarina Wiegman will be hoping that Hemp’s partnership with Manchester City team-mate Chloe Kelly – who was out for most of last season with an ACL injury – will be back with a bang on the Euros stage.
The duo’s assist and goal against Reading last March is an insight into what could be for the Lionesses. Hemp’s persevering run, impressive weaving and vision at a crucial time is a perfect embodiment of her style of play.
“This is one of my favourite assists so far,” Hemp told The Athletic recently. “Keeping the ball, close control, taking players on and doing what I do best. I was quite proud of this one.”
Best finish: Although Hemp claims to be cautious when she gets the ball in front of goal, she has a tally of brilliant finishes to choose from. Undoubtedly, one of the most memorable is her goal against West Ham to secure the 2019 Women’s FA Cup for City.
The angled shot from well outside the 18-yard box made sure she left her mark and proved that her brilliance would shine bright through the endless talent that the Manchester City squad possesses.
Did you know? Hemp still gets starstruck – not by footballers these days but, eh, the cast of EastEnders. In an interview with England’s official YouTube last year, she revealed she loves a good selfie with soap stars and famous actors. Relatable!
You can follow Ruby on Twitter @RubyGMalone
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