EXCLUSIVE: ‘I’m now getting snapped eating a pasty… things have changed!’: Life is very different for Ella Toone after she helped lead England to Euro 2022 glory… and the Manchester United forward is absolutely loving it
- Ella Toone reveals that she watches her Euros final goal every night before bed
- The Manchester United forward came off the bench to score England’s first goal
- Toone has enjoyed the attention the Lionesses historic success has brought her
- England play a World Cup qualifier against Austria only 34 days after the final
It was the most Mancunian phrase Ella Toone could have come out with. Asked after the match how she felt about England winning the Euros, her response was simply: ‘I’m absolutely buzzing me head off!’
Toone, who turned 23 on Friday, became a hero after scoring the Lionesses’ first goal in the final against Germany. In her hometown of Tyldesley, there is a mural on her local pub, the Union Arms, which shows her celebrating the moment she had fired England in front. And nearly five weeks on from that historic day, she is still on a high.
‘I think I always will be,’ Toone tells Sportsmail. ‘Every time I think of the Euros, it’ll always bring back unbelievable memories. ‘I’m buzzing me head off’ has stuck. The woman at the pub in Tyldesley bought loads of bucket hats and they all got printed ‘I’m buzzing me head off’ on them, so I think everyone loved that interview!’
Ella Toone scored the first goal in England’s 2-1 win over Germany in the Euro 2022 final
Toone’s chip over Germany goalkeeper Merle Frohms was one of the best goals of the Euros
Toone’s chip over Germany goalkeeper Merle Frohms was one of the best goals of the tournament and the forward says she watches it back every night before she goes to bed.
‘It felt like a lifetime before it hit the back of the net and I’d already started celebrating before it went in. I just ran more towards the families and the bench so that we could celebrate with everyone.
‘I saw all my family going mad and then everyone was on top of me so I didn’t see much after that. I’m just so glad it went in. I’ve watched it back so many times, my mum and dad have as well. I’ll continue to keep watching it back because it’s probably the best goal I’ve ever scored and one that will stay with me for a long time.’
Toone made an impact every time head coach Sarina Wiegman brought her on at the Euros. Her 84th-minute equaliser in the quarter-final against Spain turned the tide in England’s favour when they were close to crashing out.
‘I knew my role and throughout the tournament it was about making sure I took my opportunities when they came — and that was a big opportunity in the Spain game. It (the ball) fell for me and I managed to put it away and give us that extra chance of staying in the tournament.
‘All the girls in the team would have been disappointed going out in the quarter-finals just because we knew how much of a talented squad we had and how far we could go.
Toone described the changes in her life as ‘a whirlwind’ since beating Germany
‘I made sure I was ready when called upon. During the matches I watched the game properly and tried to process where the spaces were for me. Every time Sarina asked me to come on, she made sure I went out there and enjoyed myself and that’s what I did.’
Toone says she used to ‘dread’ interviews and struggled with confidence but you would not know it from speaking to her now. She is one of the jokers of the Manchester United and England team and is known for her cheeky and charismatic personality.
At England’s Trafalgar Square celebration, Toone said she did not know what day it was and was concerned her eyelashes had come off before the final.
‘Yeah, the after-party was a bit mad,’ Toone says. ‘There were a few tired eyes the day after. I made sure I had an hour in the morning to get my eyelashes sorted before I flew to Ibiza!’
Toone, who is speaking to Sportsmail in between filming for wow hydrate, says she has barely had five minutes to herself since coming back from holiday.
‘It’s been a whirlwind,’ she adds. ‘I was still on a high for so long. Going back to United brought me down to earth a bit and made me have time to think about it and process what we did over the summer. But as soon as we got out from camp, it was just all a bit crazy. Things have really changed in life.’
Toone said that the Lionesses wanted to help grow the profile of women’s football domestically
One of the biggest changes for Toone and her England team-mates is the increased media attention around their lives. ‘I’ve been in the papers recently, which is so different to what we are used to. I was on holiday and I was getting papped on the beach — and that’s not something any of us have had to deal with before.
‘We kind of knew things were going to change but I maybe didn’t know how drastically. Obviously I didn’t think that I’d be in the papers eating a pasty! That’s something now that we have to deal with and that’s part and parcel of football.’
Wiegman said after the final that the FA would put plans in place to help players deal with the challenges of their new-found fame. Toone is still getting used to being stopped in the street but it is something she enjoys. ‘It was a bit of a shock at first and I remember being in the airport and thinking, ‘Why are more people coming over to me than usual?’ And then I realised, ‘Oh yeah, we just won the Euros’.
‘I went to the Trafford Centre and got stopped by a few people. To be fair, it has been really nice. The people who have come up to me, they’ve just congratulated me and said, ‘Thank you for the best summer and thank you for inspiring us’.
‘That’s what we wanted, we wanted the women’s game to grow and you can see that by the amount of people stopping us in the streets and stuff like that. It is nice and I always like it when little girls come over to me and ask for a photo. I always make time for them and I’m just happy that we inspired the nation and made them proud.’
England are in Austria for a World Cup qualifier just 34 days after the Euros final. It has been a short turnaround, with some players having less than two weeks off before rejoining their clubs for pre-season. But Toone was desperate to get back.
She says: ‘Two weeks off was enough for me because I was itching to get back on the grass, I’m always ready to go back into football.
‘Being selected for England is an honour every single time, so I can’t wait to get back out there with the girls. Obviously our focus now is qualifying for the World Cup. I’m just excited to play for England again and nothing will ever change that no matter what.’
Euros fever is still alive and kicking, with England’s final World Cup qualifier, against Luxembourg at Stoke’s Bet365 Stadium, a sell-out next week, while their friendly against United States at Wembley in October sold out in less than 24 hours. Women’s Super League clubs have also seen a huge spike in ticket sales.
England’s win at Wembley in July was the Lionesses’ first major tournament success
‘It’s going to be a massive year for women’s football and we just want to keep getting more people in the grounds to watch us and putting on performances,’ Toone says. ‘You can see that in ticket sales and obviously selling out our England games as well.
‘A lot of people tuned in to watch us over the summer, hopefully now they can come and watch us at clubs as well. That was the aim, to have more people watching and especially at a club level as well as international.’
England need a point from their final two qualifying games to secure their place at next year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Toone is known for being ultra-competitive, which she puts down to her mum being a former gymnast and other family members being swimmers, and the forward is determined to experience that winning feeling again next summer.
‘The whole squad are the same, we just want to win,’ she says. ‘We’ve had that feeling of winning now and how amazing it was — why would we not want to go and do that again?
‘Our first thought is to qualify and we’ve got two tough games coming up. Austria are always a tough opponent, so our focus is on that. We want to qualify for the World Cup, go out there and inspire the nation again. We’ve had that feeling of winning and success and we only want more.’
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