The history of English football has been littered with iconic names and all-time greats. Legends of the game that are synonymous with major tournament success (and heartbreak) have etched their names into the fabric of this country’s international pedigree with sustained greatness at the very summit of the game. In the majority of invasion sports at the elite level, the prospect of scoring goals and finishing is regarded as one of the most difficult skill sets in the game. As a result., there is a considerable emphasis placed on the ability to do just that.
Throughout November, Harry Kane scored seven goals during the international break to move to third on the all-time list of England Men’s goalscorer, tied with Gary Lineker and just one goal behind the great Bobby Charlton. With 48 goals to his name, Kane needs 6 more to surpass the outright leader in goals for the England Men’s team; Wayne Rooney.
On the last day of November however, it was another England goalscorer that also moved to 48 goals and, in doing so, secured her position as the outright leading goalscorer for the country.
Record Breaking Night
On the 30th November, England faced an inexperienced Latvia side in a World Cup qualifying match at Keepmoat Stadium, Doncaster. In front of an excitable and vocal crowd, Ellen White and the rest of the England side put on a clinic in front of goal, scoring a staggering 20, smashing the previous record of 13 by and England side.
White grabbed a hat-trick for herself and, in doing so, moved two goals clear of Kelly Smith in 16 fewer games. White has been an example of consistency since scoring on her international debut 11 years ago. In the Lioness’ current campaign, White has scored 9 goals in a commanding 6 games that has left the England side sitting comfortably atop of their qualification group with an astonishing 53 goals scored and not a single one conceded.
With such an integral role to play in a strong England Women’s side, White has the adoration of her teammates alongside those of the fans that have supported her career over the last decade.
Any sign of nerves at the impending milestone were soon quashed when White scored twice inside the opening 10 minutes to secure her position as the all-time leading goalscorer for her country. The 2021 Ballon D’Or shortlisted player added a third later in the evening to crown a historic night in Doncaster and etch her name into English football history.
White’s ascension to the global stage
At the age of 32, White’s goalscoring prowess is a skillset that has been forged over time. After opening her international goalscoring account on her debut in March 2010, it hasn’t been a steady path to her current standing at the summit of english women’s football. An anterior cruciate ligament injury in 2014 ruled White out for the entire WSL season, as well as contributing to her not scoring in an England international for almost 3 years.
Despite such a comprehensive and potentially career-threatening injury, White has made up for lost time, currently standing as the second-highest goalscorer in Women’s Super League history. Her exploits for Arsenal, Notts County, Birmingham and Manchester City has put her in elite company within the domestic game however it is the international program that has truly set her aside from her peers.
When competing for the Lionesses, White has built a reputation on rising to the big occasion, particularly in recent years where she has allowed her experience to come to the fore. At the 2019 World Cup, White finished with 6 goals in seven games (over 46% of England’s goals at the tournament) and finished level on goals with the Golden Boot winning Megan Rapinoe from Team USA. At the Tokyo Olympics, White continued her dominating from in big tournaments, scoring six times in Team GB’s four games, including a devastating hat-trick against Australia in a heartbreaking quarter-final loss.
Despite her extensive accolades and trophies from her time on the pitch, White exudes a humble and caring persona that has endeared her to her teammates. On reaching her milestone against Latvia, there was an outpouring of congratulations on social media from peers and teammates alike. From humble origins as the only girl in her local U-9 side, White has risen to the summit of the game whilst maintaining the same positive and professional outlook that has made her such a popular member of both her Manchester City and England team.
Despite her age, White has positioned herself as the primary option for Sabrina Wiegman and her England selections. With Wiegman hoping to create role models from the Lionesses through her tenure as England manager, she will be hard pressed to find many better suited than the talismanic White. Having finally reached the very summit of the English Women’s goalscoring charts, there are few that would begrudge White turning her attention to the outright scoring title.
In those standings, White is currently sitting just one goal behind Bobby Charlton and five behind Wayne Rooney. Whilst it might be optimistic to expect two more games of scoring at the same rate as White showed against Latvia, the Lionesses have an exciting period in store that may set up the historic occasion.
With a home European Championships to look forward to next summer, White has the exciting prospect of securing her status as the highest England goalscorer of all time in front of a home crowd at a major championships. The prospect is an exciting one, however White is remaining typically humble and not wishing to look beyond her immediate commitments to club and country.
Beyond such an exciting tournament for the Women’s game in England, the side have a crucial World Cup in Australia and New Zealand to look forward to the following year and, despite her position as one of the senior players in the current squad, there would be few that would bet against White producing another dominant display at a major global tournament.