England footballer Beth Mead’s journey from child prodigy to national hero and LGBTQ+ icon
The England Lionesses’ historic Euro 2022 victory secured Beth Mead’s status as one of football’s brightest stars and a bona fide LGBTQ+ icon.
Forward Mead won the coveted Golden Boot, given to the tournament’s top scorer, as the England women’s team were immortalised as Euro 2022 champions.
After a fantastic display of athleticism, the Lionesses brought it home by beating Germany 2-1. They’re the first England team in 56 years to win a major trophy.
Beth Mead scored six goals throughout the tournament and was awarded the Golden Boot over German player Alexandra Popp, who also scored six, because she had more assists.
She has also won a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for most goals scored at the Women’s Euros – tied with Popp and Inka Griggs, another German footballer, who achieved the same number in 2009.
Beth Mead fell in love with football as a child
Beth Mead began her footballing journey as a young girl from humble beginnings with too much energy.
She was born in the Yorkshire village of Hinderwell, with a population of less than 2,000 people – “literally in the middle of nowhere in North Yorkshire”, she says.
As a child, her mother wanted to find an activity for her “get rid of some of that energy”, as she told England Football.
And football was the answer.
Mead began playing with a boys’ team, as there was no girls’ team close by, and soon her talent became apparent.
Her mother took a second job to cover the cost of petrol for a 45-minute drive to Middlesbrough FC, so that she could join the girls’ team there. Mead cited her parents as “big people who have influenced my footballing career”.
“I just loved playing football growing up,” Mead wrote in a piece for England Football.
Her talent was evident from the beginning: in her first season with the FA Women’s Premier League she scored 23 goals in 23 games, proving she was a force to be reckoned with.
Beth Mead opened up about being LGBTQ+ to help others
In 2017 Mead joined Arsenal, where she played as a winger, and she started a relationship with former Arsenal teammate Danielle van de Donk in 2019.
She spoke about her relationship to the Express, sharing her hope that such openness would help other people.
“I think if players like me and Danielle can make people feel more comfortable and proud of who they are, then that’s a good thing,” she said.
“I think it creates an environment for people to be able to talk and speak out about who they are regardless of what anybody thinks.”
The couple later broke up in 2021 after spending lockdown together.
Mead is no stranger to international glory – she has been playing for the national team since she was in the under-15s and has impressed at every turn.
In 2018 she made her debut with the Lionesses, scoring two goals in her first game against Kazakhstan.
Mead became a consistent top-scorer, so the football world was shocked when she wasn’t picked for Team GB’s 2020 Olympic squad.
In an interview with the BBC, Mead explained why she believes she wasn’t chosen.
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“I was putting a lot of pressure on myself and overthinking a lot of things,” she said.
“Enjoying it and playing freely has been the biggest thing that’s helped me this year.”
While she didn’t get picked for the Olympic squad, it was obvious Mead was destined for greater things. And she has proven that setbacks needn’t get in the way of long-term success.
“It’s been a journey but being here, being involved in the Euros, was a dream come true for me with the disappointment of last year,” she told the BBC.
Now Mead and her teammates are champions who have not only brought it home for England, but have heralded a new era of women’s football.