Beth Mead scores England’s first goal against Sweden in the Euro 2022 semi-final

The smoke was still rising long after Beth Mead led England’s demolition of Norway. “Beth Mead’s on fire!” echoed into the night in Brighton but the individual performance of Euro 2022 did not end there. England’s breakout star continued to show the way towards the final at Wembley. Mead’s stunning hat-trick in the record-breaking 8-0 win lit the torch for what would follow: the thrilling comeback against Spain, the triumphant dismissal of Sweden, and with six goals so far she now carries England’s hopes heading into Sunday’s showdown against Germany as well.

It was a crushing disappointment 12 months ago, however, that sparked the flame that has driven Mead at the Euros this month – or, as Ian Wright labelled it, kick-started the “Beth Mead revenge tour”. It is unthinkable now that the top scorer in the England squad would be omitted from a major tournament just last year, but Team GB coach Hege Riise’s decision to overlook Mead ahead of the Tokyo Olympics last summer served as the motivation the 27-year-old needed to “go up another gear”, and the transformation since has been extraordinary.

A desire for self-improvement and fierce determination to prove the doubters wrong led to Mead returning to pre-season training with Arsenal early, and she would hit the ground running at the start of the campaign. Fuelled by the disappointment of the Olympics, Mead scored two goals as Arsenal defeated Chelsea 3-2 on the opening day of the season. She did not look back, winning her league’s player of the month award and then translating her form to the national team with England. Last autumn, she made history by becoming the first woman to score an England hat-trick at Wembley in the 4-0 win over Northern Ireland.

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