In 2015, Fran Kirby made headlines at the Women’s World Cup when she scored the opening goal in England’s 2-1 win over Mexico and was nicknamed ‘mini Messi’ by Lionesses boss Mark Sampson. What was all the more impressive was that the 21-year-old was the only player in England’s squad to be playing in the WSL 2, having netted a league high 24 goals for Reading FC Women in the second tier the previous year.
Two years later and Kirby has moved to Chelsea for a British record transfer fee and Reading Women have earned promotion to the WSL and survived their first campaign there. The Women’s European Championships in the Netherlands has now rolled around and the Royals have two representatives in England’s squad - Jo Potter and Jade Moore.
Both players made the switch to Berkshire in May after seeing their previous club Notts County Ladies fold on the eve the 2017 FA WSL Spring Series. 32-year-old Potter is a defender with 31 caps (3 goals) for the national team since 2004, whilst 26-year-old Moore is a midfielder with 27 caps (1 goal).
In addition to the duo, goalkeeper Mary Earps, who was named in the PFA Team of the Year in April, has linked up with the squad at the championships in what could prove to be vital experience for the 24-year-old who should be a main stay in England squads for the foreseeable future.
The Lionesses begin their campaign against Scotland on Wednesday and also face Spain and Portugal in Group D.
The final Royal playing at the tournament is defender Mandy van den Berg (no relation to Joey!), who is the captain of host nation the Netherlands for whom she has 86 caps (6 goals) for. The 26-year-old played 80 minutes as the Dutch claimed a 1-0 victory over Norway in the tournament’s opening game. Belgium and Denmark are their other opponents in Group A.
After achieving a superb third place finish at the World Cup two years ago, the England have a real chance of making history in the Netherlands - could Potter and Moore return to Berkshire with medals around their necks? You can follow the progress of the tournament over the next three weeks on Channel 4 and Eurosport.