‘A little bit stunned’: Millie Bright to captain England in qualifiers

Millie Bright has said she is “humbled and honoured” to have been asked to captain England for the World Cup qualifiers against Austria and Latvia.

The manager, Sarina Wiegman, gave the armband to Arsenal’s centre-back Leah Williamson during her first camp in the absence of the longtime captain Steph Houghton, who is yet to return from an achilles injury, and the experienced full-back Lucy Bronze. With Williamson out with a hamstring injury, Bright has been chosen.

The 28-year-old was informed before training that she would lead the team for the games in Sunderland on Saturday and Doncaster next Tuesday, in which the striker Ellen White could win the cap she needs to reach 100 and eat away at the two-goal gap to the England Women’s goalscoring record.

“We’ve actually taught her [Wiegman] a new phrase, ‘little chit-chat’, and then she was like: ‘Can I take you for a chit-chat?’ and asked me if I was happy to be captain for this camp,” Bright said.

“I was a little bit stunned at first. We’ve got a lot of leaders and experience in the team and I was just very humbled and honoured to be given that opportunity.”

Bright has captained England and Chelsea when injuries have sidelined Houghton and Magda Eriksson respectively, and she praised their influence on her leadership style.

“It’s the way they carry themselves on and off the pitch – both of them are the ultimate pros,” the defender said. “Whenever it gets tough on the pitch, they’re always the first ones to bring the team back to its core and get us back on track in that moment.

“But every captain is different. Every captain will lead in different ways. So I think it’s important not to put everyone in the same category. With or without the armband I always remain myself, the same Millie.”

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England’s second game, against Latvia, sees Bright return to where her career started with Doncaster Rovers Belles. “I suffered many defeats at the Keepmoat, some heavy defeats,” she said. “Looking back at the Keepmoat, that was my first real experience of playing in a big stadium and that’s where the dream started really.

“It’s been a rollercoaster of a journey and to be able to be going back there and leading the girls out in front of the people and my family that were there from day one is going to be a moment that will last for ever.”


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