She swept the board at UEFA Women's EURO 2022 for England and Beth Mead is just as deadly at club level with Arsenal.
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Beth Mead already had a prolific reputation as a scorer and creator of goals for Arsenal and England prior to UEFA Women's EURO 2022 but it was that tournament that confirmed her at the pinnacle of the game.
The 27-year-old scored six goals and got five assists, both finals-leading totals, to finish as Top Scorer and be named Player of the Tournament as England lifted the trophy. UEFA.com profiles a player now aiming to similar silverware with Arsenal, though after a fine start to 2022/23 she suffered a an ACL injury. However, 2022 did end with her winning the prestigious BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.
What they say
"Sometimes when you come into a team as a coach you have seen players playing on video and you have an idea of them; I saw positive things in her but she absolutely blew my mind with her qualities when I came here."
Jonas Eidevall, Arsenal manager
"She shoots the ball between the posts and bar and does really well! We create chances and sometimes we want to be more ruthless, but Beth is really eager in front of goal. She has done really well."
Sarina Wiegman, England manager
"I think we all know that Beth didn't go to the Olympics [in 2021] and she's proven and shown exactly what type of a player she is. She is a top, top player full of confidence right now. We're all so proud of her."
Jordan Nobbs, Arsenal and England team-mate and former colleague at Middlesbrough and Sunderland
Claims to fame
• Having played with boys up to the age of ten, Mead joined the Centre of Excellence at Middlesbrough but at 16 switched to Sunderland
• Mead swiftly broke into the Sunderland team and in her first full season for 2011/12, was 18-goal top scorer as they won the second-tier Women's Premier League National Division, and repeated the trick the next season.
• Sunderland then won the new Women's Super League (WSL) 2 of 2014, Mead again the club's top scorer.
• In 2015, Mead played in England's top WSL division (scoring in a 2-1 defeat of champions Liverpool in her first game) and was league top scorer on 12 goals as Sunderland finished fourth. Mead was voted the league's Players' Player of the Year and PFA Young Player of the Year.
• After 77 goals in 78 Sunderland games, Mead joined Arsenal in January 2017.
• She made a quiet and injury-hit start at Arsenal. Ahead of her first full WSL season at the club, their signing of Vivianne Miedema meant a move to a wide position for Mead.
• Mead soon thrived in her new role and was Arsenal's 2017/18 top league scorer, voted Football Supporters' Association player of the year. Arsenal won the WSL Cup.
• In 2018/19, Mead was part of a deadly Arsenal attack, getting a WSL record 12 assists as they won the league and scoring a spectacular goal in their title-clinching 4-0 victory at Brighton.
• Mead got her first taste of the UEFA Women's Champions League in 2019/20, and scored in the quarter-final loss to Paris Saint-Germain.
• Mead continued to thrive for Arsenal domestically but stepped it up a level in 2021/22 under new coach Eidevall with 14 goals and 19 assists in 40 Gunners games, also featuring high in defensive as well as attacking individual statistics. She created 72 chances in the WSL season, 24 more than the next best. Again featured in a UEFA Women's Champions League quarter-final.
• Started the 2022/23 UEFA Women's Champions League group stage with two goals in Arsenal's stunning 5-1 win at holders Lyon.
• However, those look like her last goals of the season after an ACL rupture suffered against Manchester United in November. Signed a new Gunners contract the following month and in December became the first female footballer to be named BBC Sports Personality of the Year, the major cross-sport award in the UK.
• Having moved up the youth ranks and played at the 2012 UEFA Women's U19 EURO, Mead helped England reach the 2013 final in Wales, losing in extra time to France. Her three goals in the tournament was only bettered by Pauline Bremer. As a result Mead and England went to the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Canada.
• Mead had to wait until April 2018 to make her senior England debut as a substitute against Wales in a FIFA Women's World Cup qualifier watched by 25,603 people in Southampton.
• Mead opened her England account with a double away to Kazakhstan later that year, and struck against both Brazil and Japan at the SheBelieves Cup in March 2019.
• A key part of England's team at the 2019 Women's World Cup in France, Mead provided assists in the 1-0 group defeat of Argentina, 3-1 quarter-final win against Norway and 2-1 last-four loss to the United States.
• However, after Phil Neville's departure as England coach in early 2021, Mead found chances limited under interim replacement Hege Riise, who left her out of the Great Britain Olympic squad.
• Mead's fortunes turned again when Wiegman took the England helm in September 2021. Even before Women's EURO 2022 kicked off, Mead had 14 goals in the season (including become the first woman to score a hat-trick at Wembley, against Northern Ireland), a new record for a men's or women's England senior team.
• More records were smashed as England won Women's EURO on home soil. Mead equalled the record goal tally of six, and also got five assists, to finish as Top Scorer. Her five in the group stage, including a hat-trick in the 8-0 defeat of Norway, was an outright record and Mead became the first player in tournament history to score in all three group games (matched by Alex Popp the following night).
• Unsurprisingly, Mead was named Player of the Tournament. Her performances also helped her finish second in the voting for the UEFA Women's Player of the Year and Ballon d'Or awards, and Mead claimed the BBC Women's Footballer of the Year prize as well as being BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
• England wrapped up 2023 World Cup qualifying not long after Women's EURO, Mead ending the campaign with 13 goals and a joint-best 12 assists. However, she now faces a fight to be fit for those finals.
What you might not know
• Mead attended Teesside University while with Sunderland, reading sports development. In 2022 the university launched a Beth Mead Scholarship to support female students also pursuing a professional football career.
• Among things named after Mead following her EURO 2022 exploits were an octopus at Sea Life Scarborough, a bus in her home region of North Yorkshire and a beer in London.
What she says
[On playing senior football for Sunderland at 16] "Playing against women while I was still a teenager, that was a huge step for me and a bit bewildering at the time. I was used to having people my age shout at me but here I had 28-year-olds telling me that I needed to be better. That was the exposure I needed, though, and I wouldn't have done it if I wasn't pushed by the people closest to me [encouraging her to join Sunderland]."
[On being switched to the wing at Arsenal] "The good thing for me is that I know what the No9 likes. I know strikers love to run on to early crosses, so I think that's where I had the upper hand on most wingers. I started to get regular game time and when I realised the wing suited me, I guess I just created my own style."
[On winning EURO 2022] "I can't believe it. Sometimes football cuts you down, but bouncing back is the best thing to do. I'm still in shock, I can't believe we won it. I am so proud of this team."
"Walking down the street has been a little bit different, being recognised a lot more. I went on holiday and people recognised who I was there which I found a bit crazy, as I wasn't in England any more."