Ellen White's Olympic story

Ellen White reserves a special role for London 2012 in the rise of women’s football.

White’s all-time record 52 goals are the stuff of Lionesses legend but she was even more lethal in Team GB colours.

The 33-year-old netted six times in eight games across two Olympics, a fitting haul for one of the game’s great finishers.

White and Jill Scott will go down in history as the two trailblazers to have competed at a home Games who went on to lift the EURO 2022 trophy at Wembley.

The decade that followed brought untold footballing riches but White still speaks in hushed tones of awe at the spectacle and subsequent legacy of 2012.

“The word to describe it would be ridiculous,” White said.

“I don’t think we ever thought that we could compete at an Olympics, so to get that opportunity was incredible and an absolute dream.

“2012 just propelled the whole notion of women’s football into a different atmosphere.”

A Wembley crowd of 70,584, then a record for a women’s international in Britain, propelled Hope Powell’s side to a 1-0 win over the mighty Brazil.

The roar that greeted Steph Houghton’s second-minute opener has always stayed with White.

“When Steph scored that goal, I feel goosebumps now because it was just unbelievable,” she said.

“It was deafening, a phenomenal piece of history to be involved in. Women’s football was small at that time and it meant the world to have that support.

“There was so much support and that has grown so much since then.”

England surpassed that attendance record when they met Germany in 2019, when 77,768 gathered at HQ, a further feat that wouldn’t have happened were it not for 2012.

White said: “We were aspiring to achieve what we felt for Team GB.

“We wanted to showcase our game and for people to come and watch at the most iconic stadium in the world. People showed up in the same way as they did in 2012.”

White returned to the Olympic stage at Tokyo 2020 in 2021 and scored six goals in four games, including a quarter-final hat-trick against Australia.

That treble came in a losing cause, with White’s response encapsulating why she is one of Britain’s best-loved footballers.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the team and the staff,” she said. “I would have given up every single goal to win a gold medal.”

Sportsbeat 2022