When Ella Toone fired England ahead with her rocket strike yesterday, she became the first England player (men’s and women’s) to score in a quarter-final, semi-final and final of major international tournaments (Women’s World Cup & European Championships).
Not many can forget her strike that opened the scoring in the Euros final against Germany just over a year ago, that sent to English fans into a frenzy.
Yesterday’s game almost felt like a replica of that goal in the sense that the timing for Toone to find her form couldn’t have been any better.
Toone has struggled to really stamp her authority on this tournament so far after being dropped in the group stages. But after Lauren James found herself suspended, Toone rose to the occasion.
It was an end-to-end game with chances for both sides, a goal was coming but no-one, not even Toone, saw that goal coming.
Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live, Toone said, “The ball fell to me perfectly and I thought, ‘Why not just smack it?’ I’ve never hit a ball like that in my life, and the girls reminded me of that.”
“It went top bins and I am just so happy I could help the team to the win tonight,” she continued.
Although she scored a rocket in one of the biggest games of her life, Toone has never forgotten her roots and the celebration paid tribute to that.
Toone kissed her wrist and made a heart gesture in celebration as her teammates chased after her.
Before the tournament, she told BBC, “I’m on strict orders from my mates. We all got a matching tattoo before I came out (to Australia). They want me to kiss it and do a little love heart. I promised them I’d do that.”
Her friends, gathered at her local with her family in Tyldesley, told North West Tonight they were moved to tears when the Manchester United star delivered on her promise.
Toone is proud of how far the squad has come so far. “Credit to the players not playing too, they keep us going and give us that support. We are just a strong, strong team. For a lot of us it is our first World Cup, for a lot of them it is their third.”
She continued, “We know how close the older players have been [to a final] in the past, and we have that little bit of wanting to do it for them, for all of the players that came before us, and for everyone back home too.”
For this Lionesses side, they have become accustomed to the joy and buzz of international knockout football and will be hoping to add another trophy to the cabinet at the weekend after the Euros last year. Not just any trophy though: football’s biggest prize.