Women’s Euro 2017: ‘Better leader’ Steph Houghton seeks Scotland repeat against Spain

It is 51 years since an England captain last lifted a major trophy, but there is genuine belief that Steph Houghton will emulate Bobby Moore in just three weeks and become a national icon.

Moore’s team started the 1966 World Cup slowly, but the manner with which the Lionesses dismissed bitter rivals Scotland on Wednesday caused the whole of Euro 2017 to sit bolt upright – as Jodie Taylor’s hat-trick carried them to a first opening-game win at a major tournament in 12 years.

It was not just the emphatic 6-0 score line, but the fact they hardly broke sweat in Utrecht and Spain can be forgiven for travelling to Breda with a sense of dread ahead of their game on Sunday.

There is a real sense of momentum behind England, and that comes from the positivity flowing through manager Mark Sampson.

The Welshman has been a revelation since replacing Hope Powell in 2013, steering England to third place in the 2015 World Cup.

And by his side the entire time has been Durham-born Houghton, who feels this team is finally ready to end England’s 51 years of hurt.

“This is what you dream of, playing in major tournaments and captaining your country as well,” the Manchester City defender said.

“I loved every minute of the 2015 World Cup but I think we have grown a lot over those two years.

“I am a better leader than I was back then, so I want to enjoy every single moment.

“That Scotland game is one I will never forget, because of the performance but also for the level of support we had. The noise at the national anthem was the loudest I have ever heard it.

“For us, it is about taking the next game as it comes and making sure we repeat that performance.

“It will be tough against Spain, we know they will be very technical and they like to get the ball down and play one-twos to move us out of position.

“But it is important that we are disciplined. When we have previously played them, they have always give us a good game and we respect them.

“We know it is the toughest game of our group.”

Spain opened their campaign with a 2-0 win against rivals Portugal, and are likely to emerge from Group D as the second side to qualify for the quarter-finals along with England.

They have big weapons all over the pitch, with former Arsenal midfielder Vicky Losada likely to pull the strings in midfield and striker Jennifer Hermoso deadly in front of goal.

But boss Sampson is confident England can maintain their momentum and see them off in style.

“It is a Spanish team that has not done so well against some of the bigger teams, it has been four years since they have beaten us, France, Germany or USA,” he said.

“Spain are a team who want to control the rhythm and control the tempo, want to play the game in their own unique way. But so, do we.”

SSE is an official partner of the England Women’s team and is proud to be the energy behind women’s football, supporting the game from grassroots through to international level. Follow us at @YourSSE

Related Articles