Chelsea's Beth England has gone from the chippy to the championships

From the chippy to the championships! Three-time WSL title winner Beth England praises the growth of the women’s game for helping her career go from strength to strength

  •  Beth England worked nights at a takeaway while playing semi-professional 
  •  Since joining Chelsea in 2016, she’s won three titles and Player of the Year award
  •  Chelsea’s league clash against Manchester City is live on Sky Sports on Sunday
  •  Her 2019-20 season was ended by an achilles injury and then by Covid-19

In the space of seven years, Beth England has gone from fish and chip shops to championships. For four years she was working night shifts at a takeaway in Barnsley alongside playing semi-professional football for Doncaster Belles.

Since joining Chelsea in 2016, she’s won three Women’s Super League titles, a Player of the Year award and was described by Emma Hayes as ‘the best English No 9 in the country.’

And with Chelsea’s league clash against Manchester City live on Sky Sports on Sunday, the striker’s career has gone from strength to strength alongside the growth of the women’s game.

Beth England has gone from the chippy to the championships as a star for Chelsea Women

‘I never thought it would get to this point,’ England tells Sportsmail. ‘It’s crazy how now I can be driving into work and hear all about the WSL on the radio.

‘I turn Sky Sports on and our faces are everywhere. When I first started playing there weren’t many girls teams around let alone women that you could watch on TV. 

‘This Sky deal is monumental for us and hopefully it can keep pushing the women’s game forward and we can keep getting the airtime we deserve like the men.’

England scored 21 goals in the 2019-2020 season, including the winner in the Continental Cup final against Arsenal.

England scored the winning goal in the Continental Cup against Arsenal in the 2019-20 season 

‘It was a great year for me, I loved every minute of it. I was really proud to have been able to help the team collect so many trophies and to put my foot down in the women’s game and build myself a bit of a platform.’

But with the striker at the top of her game, the season was abruptly ended, first by an achilles injury and then by Covid-19. 

But there were more important concerns for England, whose mum was working in Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital during the height of the pandemic.

‘It was very difficult for my mum, the hospital was run-ragged,’ England says.

‘She was getting all the testing out and they were just flooded with all these patients coming in. 

The forward is back in action this season and is in firing form with three goals so far this term

‘I just felt a bit helpless because I was stuck in London and my family was up in Barnsley and I wasn’t able to do much to help. I’m just thankful she got through it all safely. 

‘As far as I’m aware she hasn’t had Covid, I can’t say the same for some of the people she worked with. 

‘I had elderly grandparents that were vulnerable as well and she was the primary carer for them so it was really difficult. I don’t know how she did it but I’m proud of her.’

With the WSL season curtailed, Chelsea were awarded the title on points-per-game, despite being behind Manchester City in the table. 

‘I do think a lot of people felt we didn’t deserve it,’ England says. ‘Mainly City, which is understandable. I think we’d have thought the same if the situation was the other way round.’

The last game before lockdown had seen the two teams play out a thrilling 3-3 draw, a result which effectively decided the title. 

England had put Chelsea 3-2 ahead before Lauren Hemp equalised for City. Had they gone on to win, the title would have been theirs. 

The Chelsea star celebrates after scoring her team’s third goal in their draw with City in 2020

‘I have to laugh at that game because I think from kick-off, Sam (Kerr) squared a ball across and I was in front of goal and somehow it went through my legs and I missed a one, two-yard tap-in. And then I went and scored a 30-yard rocket, it was a bit of a madness of a game.

‘Ann (Berger) saved a penalty as well. To go 3-2 up and then end up drawing again with Lauren Hemp’s late equaliser was a bit disappointing but to be able to take that point away, knowing it helped solidify another league title win was the most important thing.’

Chelsea then went on to beat City to the title again last season and England admitted they had a point to prove. 

‘Everyone wants to beat Chelsea. It’s been like that for a few years now. We always have a point to prove every year and last year we managed to more than smash that. It was a really good year for us, I think we more than proved why we were the better team.’

City have had a poor start to the WSL season and are eight points behind Chelsea, who beat them 3-0 in the FA Cup semi-final two weeks ago. 

Chelsea booked their ticket to Wembley with 3-0 win over champions Manchester City

England celebrates her goal as she secured Chelsea’s place in the final at Wembley

Another Chelsea victory will all-but end any hopes their rivals have of clawing back the gap at the top. 

‘It’s always a big game against City,’ England says.

‘I’m very aware that we’re yet to win up there in the league, we’ve only ever drawn or lost.

‘It’s going to be a very tough game but fingers crossed we do narrow that gap to Arsenal because they have started very strongly. Anything can happen in this league.’

And after playing in a title-winning season behind-closed-doors, England, it is just nice to have her family back in the stands. 

‘I think that was probably one of the toughest things because throughout my whole playing career my family has pretty much been to every game, they’ve always been there.

‘Then to not have them there for almost a year was quite difficult. I’m the type of player, as soon as I’m on the pitch I’ll look to see where they are. It’s definitely nice to have them back where they belong.’

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