Beth Mead is on fire. Thanks to the only goal in the Lionesses opener against Austria, backed up by an impressive hat-trick in England’s historic 8-0 win against Norway, she’s already gunning for the Golden Boot at Euro 2022. A power player if ever there was one, find out about her mindset prior to the tournament as part of SoccerBible Volumes: ‘All Power’.

Fuelled by the disappointment of rejection, Beth Mead is a woman on a mission. Three England hat-tricks in six months, contributing to a tally of 12 goals in 10 appearances for her country (at the time of writing – you can now obviously add another four goals to that tally), was the best response possible after the heartache of being left out of the Team GB Olympic squad that travelled to Tokyo last summer. Now she’s part of a Lionesses squad that is unbeaten since Serena Wiegman came in at the helm, as they prepare to bid for their first major trophy at the European Championships, hosted, of course, on home soil. Wiegman has been tasked with taking England to the next level after semi-final exits at their last three major competitions – the 2015 and 2019 World Cup finals and the Euros in 2017 – and it’s her calming presence that has helped Mead in some part to find her best form for the national team. But that form has not just been restricted to England, and her upturn in fortunes is no mere fluke.

See, life is full of ups and downs, and that is reflected – perhaps even amplified – in the career of a professional footballer. In both, it’s the way we deal with setbacks that often defines us, that speaks most of our strength of character, and for footballers, how they react will always be scrutinised in the public eye, lending even more weight to their actions.

For Mead then, who was named the Arsenal fans’ player of the season after a stellar 21/22 campaign in which she scored 11 goals and provided eight assists, the joint highest in the league alongside Manchester United’s Ella Toone, there can be no doubting her awe-inspiring resilience, which has been in clear evidence throughout this past season, backed up by her undoubted ability and impressive statistics. England as a footballing nation knows disappointment all to well, and yet Mead stands as a beacon, a perfect example of how disappointment can be positively flipped and used advantageously. Now, ready to lead the line, and leading the roar for European glory, Beth Mead really does bring truth to the darkest hour coming before the dawn.

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You’ve experienced a hell of a lot along the way in England in a relatively short but fast few years. How would you describe the kind of journey through your eyes? 

It’s been an interesting few years for me as a footballer. Football is tale of ups and downs, isn’t it? Happy moments, bad moments, ones you want to forget, so I’ve had plenty of them in an England shirt. I’m just very grateful to be where I am, in the position I am, playing for my country, touch wood being and staying pretty fit within my timeframe here and yeah I’m just grateful for everyday and I think recently that’s probably clicked with me a little bit more since obviously my disappointment for the Olympics. 

I need to appreciate these moments more because you just don’t know when you’re either out of favour or you’re not in form or you’re not playing so well or yeah, worst case scenario you have an injury or something. So, I think for me I’m probably living a little bit more in the now and appreciating the moments I get in an England shirt and when I’m in and around the environment. 

Just to have that perspective on life in general is such a valuable asset. There’s so much good energy around the England camp, what have you seen change or evolve since you’ve been part of it? From the outside it does seem like such a healthy environment. 

Since Serena has come in the environment has been great. It’s been a fresh start for everyone, both staff and players and I think we’re really getting things right off the pitch as well as on. Obviously we’ve not had the toughest tests under Serena yet but the work we’re doing off the pitch is probably helping how we’ve been doing on the pitch recently. 

You can have, again, ups and downs, different managers, different philosophies, how they want you training, how they want different things and I think it’s just completely been a big refresh – everyone is enjoying it, you can tell, and everyone’s body language around the environment is, just, it’s changed recently and that’s a credit to Serena and her staff. What they’ve brought in has probably lifted us because obviously since the World Cup I think we were a little bit slack. Since then we’ve picked up massively.

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Mentioning the players, through the age groups you’ve been involved with England for so many years. Does it feel like you’re playing alongside best mates when it comes?

I first joined with England when I was 12 and I’m now 26, so it’s been quite a long journey through the ranks but I have grown up with a lot of the girls coming through. With them we’ve created friendships for life so I really do trust all the girls that are on the pitch with me. I think that’s the feeling we have at the moment. We know we’ve got each other’s backs on and off the pitch, so that makes it a lot easier when you know you’re playing with someone who you know wants what you want and you know has got your back when things aren’t going so well.

It must be nice to create such precious memories together, on an international stage…

I’m living in the here and now and appreciating the memories that I’m making with the girls and I think that’s a big and important thing that I’ve learnt recently. Football is a short career, you’ve got to live in the now, you’ve got to appreciate the good moments, and even sometimes the bad because they help you learn along the way. I’m sure a lot of the girls will say they’re making great memories with each other. It’s a great place to be at the moment.

Being able to trust everyone side by side but then having that relationship where people aren’t just friends but family, do you think that helps you want to win even more subconsciously?

As footballers we’re competitive, we want to win everything and as professional athletes but yeah it’s your family away from family sometimes and we spend a lot of time with each other and when it comes to competitions such as World Cups, Euros, Olympics, whatever it may be, these are the people that are going to get you through those tougher times, so I guess it is an extra motivation that sometimes you need to get you over the finish line.

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There’s a lot of fresh talent as well as experienced elite in the team, does it feel unique to be part of this group?

Yeah, it does. It’s such an exciting time to be around here. We’re in a really good place and we’ve got some amazing talent coming through as well great experience already. It’s a really good blend right now and this stuff we’re doing on the training pitch and seeing how it’s all coming together is exciting.

A tournament on home soil, a Euros at home, do you feel like it’s a watershed moment?

I think it could be a massive, massive changing point for football in England and the UK. What more would you want? A Euros in your own country, representing England with a home crowd in front of you? It’s what dreams are made of and I do believe that it can have a massive impact on football over here. The drive of the women’s game is bigger than ever before – it’s becoming a big spectacle and it can only go upwards from there.

Speaking of dream moments – hat-tricks at Wembley through to the prospect of walking out at Old Trafford at the start of the Euros, what words would you use to describe those highs on the way?

Honestly, I think I didn’t come down off that high for a long time at Wembley and the hat trick. Honestly I couldn’t believe it. I’m pretty good with words, I don’t stop talking normally but honestly I was speechless that day. These are the moments we live for, these are the memories that you want to remember. Looking forward and the idea of walking out at Old Trafford in front of a home crowd against Austria next year would be one of those moments again. There’s no feeling like it, there honestly isn’t, those moments are what you live for as a footballer.

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