England’s Leah Williamson ‘more focused than ever to get back on the pitch’


England defender Leah Williamson has said she “is more focused than ever to be back on the pitch” after being made an OBE at Windsor Castle.

Williamson was forced to miss this summer’s World Cup, where the Lionesses finished runners-up, after rupturing her anterior cruciate ligament in April.

The 26-year-old, who captained the Lionesses to the European Championship title last summer, told the PA news agency: “I’ve made some good steps. I’m running again now. We are in a great place.

“Days like today I can celebrate them properly with my family but I am more focused than ever to be back on the pitch.”

The Arsenal player said she was looking forward to playing again after Christmas but she has “got a long way to go until we get there”.

The footballer said she could feel like “a new signing for my team” when she returns from injury.

Williamson said she had “a bit of a catch up” with the Prince of Wales after recently seeing him at a United Nations summit in New York.

She said she has spoken to the Prince recently about making “my game grow” and how the women’s game can be integrated with the men’s football.

When asked about speaking at the United Nations summit she said: “We have made so much impact on the pitch and it’s obviously important we do that off the pitch as well.

“There were a lot of things I’d spoken to people about and that I really wanted to give my time to and I’ve been able to do that while I’ve been injured.

“It’s not my preferred choice, I’d love to be shin pads and boots on on the pitch but while I’m not out (there) I want to still try and have an impact and do what we do just in a different way.”

The footballer said she hopes women’s football “continues to shift” and there are more games at big stadiums so “we have a chance to prove that the game belongs there”.

But Williamson warned women’s footballers are “running ourselves into the ground to try and compete” because of a busy schedule.

She said: “I think everybody wants to protect their bit of the game but ultimately something has to give in the end and I had teammates this year that after a World Cup final had five days off.

“It’s not acceptable. It’s not favourable to the players, and ultimately, we’re the only ones that lose out. It’s our bodies on the line.”

Investitures at Windsor Castle
Lisa Way was given the Queen’s Gallantry Medal by the Prince of Wales at Windsor Castle (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Lisa Way helped confront a mentally ill woman who attacked shoppers in a Co-op store in the village of Penygraig, Rhondda, South Wales, on May 5 2020.

England wheelchair rugby league captain Thomas Halliwell was also made an OBE for his services to the sport.

Halliwell, who scored the try that won England the Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup, said his OBE was “the cherry on top of an already perfect cake”.


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