The start of the 2022 Euros marks almost exactly 10 years since England’s last home tournament. So just how much has changed in the decade following London 2012? With only three players featuring in the provisional Euros squad from the 2012 Team GB squad, Karen Bardsley explains just how vital she thinks this experienced trio could be as England pursue European gold this summer.
Bardsley herself featured in the squad that reached the quarter-finals in 2012 before losing to Canada. The 37-year-old announced her retirement as the 2021/22 season drew to its close.
When asked what the three players will bring to the team, Bardsley said “They’ll obviously bring a plethora of experience, with the age and the experiences they’ve had.”Embed from Getty Images
Karen Bardsley about Ellen White
“Ellen, she’s just awesome, great team player, everybody needs an Ellen”. Once again the retired England No.1 was keen to express her pride and admiration for her former teammates. “She’s someone who’s willing to sacrifice themselves for the best for the team but then also put in 100% every single day”.
White has enjoyed a prosperous decade since London 2012. The striker reached 50 international goals in 108 appearances in April. White signed for Manchester City in 2019 after having spent the previous 2 years at Birmingham.
Karen Bardsley on Jill Scott
Bardsley’s love for her former teammate was evident as she praised Scott’s work on and off the field: “She’s always going to bring the energy and the banter, she’s someone you just have to have for the health of the group”. Bardsley added, “She’s also just an amazing player as well”.
Scott’s road to the Euros however has not been as easy as many would have anticipated. The midfielder spent much of the 2021/22 season on loan at Aston Villa in search of much-needed game time. Scott departed Manchester City at the closing of the season, with the 35-year-old’s next club still unannounced.
Karen Bardsley and Steph Houghton
Speaking on her former captain, Bardsley was quick to praise Houghton’s leadership skills as well as her qualities on the field. “Steph with her leadership and her capability in the air and her free kicks, she’s going to be a huge part of the squad”.
Like Scott, Manchester City’s captain’s spot in the Euros squad has been far from assured. The 34-year-old has spent much of the season on the bench after sustaining an ankle injury. The defender also missed the end of the 2020/21 campaign with the issue, leaving her international hopes in doubt.Embed from Getty Images
Changes in culture
When asked about the changes in the culture surrounding the women’s game over the past decade, Bardsley was optimistic.
“I think we’ve seen a huge step change towards equity, equality and acceptance and the perception of women’s football in this country”. She however did point out that there is still some way to go before there is true equality between men’s and women’s football. “Obviously we still have a long way to go but the fact is there’s a good balance of boys and girls, men and women”.
The 37-year-old also praised the work going on outside of the professional game. Speaking about a women’s walking football game taking place at an event being held for this summer’s tournament, Bardsley cited this as clear evidence of progress. “These are women that would have been in my position but not had the opportunity to play, so looking at it through that lens and seeing where it is now, it’s like wow we have come a very long way”.