Rachel Daly: Lionesses star leaves behind inspirational legacy

Rachel Daly of England celebrates with her Mum following her teams victory during the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 Semi Final match between England and Sweden
Rachel Daly of England celebrates with her Mum following her teams victory during the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 Semi Final match between England and Sweden at Bramall Lane on July 26, 2022 in Sheffield, England. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

At a young age, Rachel Daly was told she would never play for England. However, her determination to succeed proved she could achieve her greatest dreams and inspire the next generation of young footballers.

With 84 senior caps and 16 goals for England, Daly has been unstoppable during her career. Although she recently unexpectedly announced her retirement from international football, she leaves a legacy behind her on the back of great international success. 

Where it all began for Rachel Daly

In 2016, Daly made her senior international debut against Serbia. With a goal on her first appearance, she became a key player for the Lionesses from day one. 

First representing England in 2008 with the U17 Lionesses in the World Cup, Daly always dreamed big. Early in her career, she moved to the USA and joined NWSL side Houston Dash. Shortly after she earned her first international cap.  

FIFA Women’s World Cup

In 2019, former England head coach Phil Neville spotted Daly’s talent. Offering her a spot in the squad ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, Daly was headed for her first senior tournament.  With five appearances, there was no doubt that she was capable of performing on the international stage. 

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Despite a strong performance from Neville’s Lionesses, the team fell short of a place on the podium. They finished in fourth place, losing out to the USA in the semi-final. This only fuelled Daly’s ambition to reach greater heights with England.

Four years later, Daly was lucky enough to have a second shot at winning the World Cup with England.  Appearing in seven matches, she scored one goal and achieved one assist. Unfortunately, the Lionesses’ dreams of becoming World Champions were just out of reach. They finished runners up after a narrow defeat to Spain. 

On the back of a successful international career, Daly’s experience and leadership helped England reach the final and kept spirits high throughout the tournament. 

Euro 2022 triumph

Winning the UEFA Women’s Euros on home soil is likely Daly’s greatest achievement in her footballing career. 

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Daly played a vital role in the team’s victory as European Champions. Daly takes on the No.9 role for Aston Villa, yet she was unstoppable in the left-back position throughout Euro 2022. 

Opposition teams feared Daly — it was never certain what position she would play each match. Her versatility on the pitch meant she was an obvious choice for head coach Sarina Wiegman’s starting 11. In fact, the boss has ‘never worked with a player so versatile’ and praises Daly for being ‘an incredible part of our story and the history we’ve made together’. 

Legacy

Although Daly’s international retirement was unexpected by both her teammates and fans, she leaves a strong legacy behind. Hanging up her boots will pave the way for the next generation of young Lionesses. In her words: ‘playing for and representing England has been the greatest honour’. 

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Her contributions to the team are unmatched, both as a player and a teammate. Grace Clinton, a youngster who recently made her senior debut, praised Daly for taking her ‘under her wing’. As she leaves the England camp for the final time, Daly remains an inspiration to players past, present and future. 

Rachel Daly will never be forgotten for her international success and contributions to the women’s game. 

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