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Leading the Lionesses: Carol Thomas on being the first England woman to reach 50 caps for the Lionesses | Football News Sky News

As part of Sky Sports News’ Leading the Lionesses series, Carol Thomas – England’s second women’s captain in history – talks about some of the milestones in her career, how the landscape of women’s football has changed and her advice to current captain Leah Williamson .

Aged 20, Thomas was named the second official England Women’s captain from 1976 to 1985, succeeding Sheila Parker.

She made her national team debut in 1974 and became the first England woman to reach 50 caps for the Lionesses.

Thomas has achieved many firsts in her career, but when asked to take us back to the start of her journey, she said Sky Sports News: “My father played local football in Hull and I had an older brother. He came and I kicked a ball for as long as I can remember. »

In 1966 footballing history was made at Wembley and the image of Bobby Moore holding the World Cup trophy for England was a key inspirational moment for a young Thomas.

“Arrives the World Cup of 66, I was 11 years old at the time. Obviously, that influenced me a lot. Luckily in Hull we had our own company league at the time, there was a lady living near me who played for one of them and she invited me to go join their team.

“And especially that the ban was still in force at that time – the ban on women playing football was not lifted until 1971 – and that we were not allowed to play on affiliated grounds. So we played in parks and working grounds wherever there were. posts. »

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Carol Thomas was the first England woman to reach 50 caps for the Lionesses

A pioneer in the sport, Thomas doesn’t think she was the loudest on the pitch, but showed leadership qualities.

She said: “I had no intention of being captain, but I think it shows. I’m basically a pretty shy person, but I like to think I’ve nudged girls and ladies in the right direction. When I became captain I wasn’t a shouter or anything like that, I like to think I led by example. »

Also in the 1970s, Carol became one of the first FA qualified female coaches. She says it went hand in hand with the captaincy, adding: “It helped a lot because I took the first-ever women’s coaching course at Lilleshall.

“We would be around 15 or 20, I think. And I was lucky to be one of only three to pass this course. So I was one of the first female coaches in the FA. »

When asked to describe the moment she realized she would be England’s next captain, Thomas replied: “I mean, I had no idea. It was two years. I had only played five games.

“It was the start of the International Pony Championships, which were the international home championships. And we were playing Scotland and Wales and the night before Wales played Scotland, [Tommy Tranter] pulled me aside and told me he was going to make me captain. I was on the moon. Absolutely. »

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Carol Thomas captained the Lionesses from 1976 to 1985

Thomas was the first England captain to win an international tournament – ​​the home internationals against Scotland and Wales in 1976. To add to her achievements, she was also the first captain to captain England away from home. Europe in 1981 during the Portopia tournament in Japan.

Thomas says she felt a little nervous taking on the captaincy, but added: “I enjoyed playing the game and the girls around me who were playing at the time, we were like a big happy family.

“And so, there were no problems. I was just a captain in my own way and for me it obviously worked because I was a captain for 11 years. »

Just like she did in Japan, Thomas was also the first captain to lead England to a European Cup final against Sweden in 1984. Although they were runners-up, Thomas cannot hide his pride for leading the team for the game.

“I was so proud to be captain, not only to play for England but also to captain my side to the first ever UEFA Women’s Championship final, immensely proud to have led them to this final. »

Thomas earned her first cap in 1974 against France and became the first English woman to reach 50 caps for England – one of many key milestones in her career.

Carol Thomas was recently inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame at St George's Park
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Carol Thomas was recently inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame at St George’s Park

“A great success. And I was so proud again,” she said. “I’ve had so many firsts in my career, it’s really amazing.

“And like I tell the grassroots girls I talk to, you keep playing and having fun and you get to see the world. You can see great things playing women’s football. »

Thomas captained England for seven consecutive tournaments and after a long career as captain, the record was finally broken by Faye White in 2011.

The landscape of women’s football has changed over the years and Thomas said: “It has gone from strength to strength and certainly since the mid-1990s when it came under the FA umbrella there has been obviously more money coming in. You’ve got the WSL now and a lot of girls playing for England, most of them are professional.

“So that helped the game, and I like to think we were just a little stepping stone to get them to where they are now in the women’s game. »

When asked if she would like to captain the modern England team, she replied: “If you had asked me when I was 19 or 20, I would have loved to have the chances that the girls have now. I would just tell them, enjoy it and make the most of your time playing women’s football at the highest level. »

Carol Thomas reveals her advice to current England Women's captain Leah Williamson
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Carol Thomas reveals her advice to current England Women’s captain Leah Williamson

Thomas has given some of his advice to current England Women’s captain Leah Williamson ahead of the Women’s Euro this summer.

She concluded: “Tell the team to go out there, enjoy it and play the best you can. They did all the coaching, they did the training, and hopefully the results will come for them. And I’m sure she’ll be a great captain. »

Follow Euro 2022 on Sky Sports

Catch up on all the latest Euro 2022 news on Sky Sports and Sky Sports News this summer.

Coverage will be anchored by Sky Sports WSL presenter Caroline Barker, alongside Jessica Creighton and Kyle Walker. Meanwhile, Karen Carney, Sue Smith, Courtney Sweetman-Kirk and Laura Bassett will provide analysis throughout the tournament.

They will also be joined by experienced England goalkeeper Karen Bardsley and Manchester City defender Esme Morgan.

Pundits and presenters will work from the Sky Sports Women’s Euro 2022 mobile presentation bus, which will follow the Sky Sports News team around the country to the various stadiums where the matches are taking place.

Additionally, Sky Sports’ essential football podcast will be rebranded for the Sky Sports Women’s Euros Podcast Tournament from June 21. Hosted by Charlotte Marsh and Anton Toloui, it will feature exclusive news and player interviews in addition to a solid tournament programme.

Euro 2022: The groups…

Group A: England, Austria, Norway, Northern Ireland

Group B: Germany, Denmark, Spain, Finland

Group C: Netherlands, Sweden, Portugal, Switzerland

Group D: France, Italy, Belgium, Iceland

Euro 2022: The calendar…

Group stage

Wednesday July 6

Group A: England v Austria – kick off 8pm, Old Trafford

Thursday July 7

Group A: Norway v Northern Ireland – kick off 8pm, St Mary’s

Friday July 8

Group B: Spain v Finland – kick off 5.00pm, Stadium MK

Group B: Germany v Denmark – kick off 8pm, London Community Stadium

Saturday July 9

Group C: Portugal v Switzerland – kick off 5pm, Leigh Sports Village

Group C: Netherlands v Sweden – kick off 8pm, Bramall Lane

Sunday July 10

Group D: Belgium v ​​Iceland – kick off 5.00pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium

Group D: France vs Italy – kick-off 8pm, New York Stadium

Monday July 11

Group A: Austria v Northern Ireland – kick off 5pm, St Mary’s

Group A: England v Norway – kick off 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium

tuesday july 12

Group B: Denmark v Finland – kick off 5.00pm, Stadium MK

Group B: Germany v Spain – kick off 8pm, London Community Stadium

Wednesday July 13

Group C: Sweden vs Switzerland – kick off 5pm, Bramall Lane

Group C: Netherlands – Portugal – kick-off 8pm, Leigh Sports Village

Thursday July 14

Group D: Italy v Iceland – kick off 5pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium

Group D: France vs Belgium – kick-off 8pm, New York Stadium

friday july 15

Group A: Northern Ireland – England – kick off 8pm, St Mary’s

Group A: Austria v Norway – kick off 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium

Saturday July 16

Group B: Finland v Germany – kick off 8pm, Stadium MK

Group B: Denmark v Spain – kick off 8pm, London Community Stadium

Sunday July 17

Group C: Switzerland vs Netherlands – kick off 5pm, Bramall Lane

Group C: Sweden v Portugal – kick off 5pm, Leigh Sports Village

Monday July 18

Group D: Iceland v France – kick off 8pm, New York Stadium

Group D: Italy v Belgium – kick off 8pm, Manchester City Academy Stadium

Knockout stage

Quarter-finals

Wednesday July 20

Quarter-final 1: Group A winners v Group B runners-up 8pm, Brighton and Hove Community Stadium

Thursday July 21

Quarter-final 2: Group B winners v Group A runners-up 8pm, London Community Stadium

friday july 22

Quarter-final 3: Winners Group C v Runners-up Group D – kick-off 8pm, Leigh Sports Village

Quarter-Final 4: Winners Group D v Runners-up Group C – Kick-off 8pm, New York Stadium

Semi-finals

tuesday july 26

Semi-final 1: Quarter-final winners 1 vs. Quarter-final winners 3 – kick-off 8pm, Bramall Lane

Wednesday July 27

Semi-final 2: Winner quarter-final 2 v Winner quarter-final 4 – kick-off 8pm, Stadium MK

Final

Sunday July 31

Winners semi-final 1 v Winners semi-final 2 – kick-off 5pm, Wembley

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