Leah Williamson will captain England tomorrow as they take on Northern Ireland in a Women’s World Cup qualifying match.
It will not be the first time Williamson represents her country in Belfast. The 25-year-old experienced a surreal five days in the city while playing for England in a qualifying tournament for the Women’s Under-19 European Championship.
The Lionesses began their campaign with a clash against Norway on April 4th 2015, which they lost 2-1 after Williamson had an injury-time penalty dramatically disallowed.
Williamson converted the kick but referee Marija Kurtes ruled the goal out for encroachment. Instead of correctly ordering a re-take, Norway were awarded an indirect free-kick.
Due to the incorrect application of the game’s laws by Kurtes, the FA lodged an appeal with UEFA, who then ordered the match to be replayed from the point of the penalty.
With the decision made on April 9th and the match set to be played on April 10th, Williamson had 24 hours to mull over the looming penalty kick.
To give the situation more jeopardy, Williamson had the chance to secure qualification for England by scoring the penalty.
By then, the Lionesses had racked up victories against Northern Ireland and Switzerland, and a point would be enough to see the side through to the Under-19 European Championship.
The replay against Norway, taking place five days after the original match, began with the penalty.
Williamson held her nerve to level things up, with the final whistle sounding moments after Norway re-started the game. The replay lasted just 16 seconds.
Video: Leah Williamson’s dramatic retaken penalty:
“I have experienced every single emotion over the past 24 hours,” Williamson admitted after the match.
“But it wasn’t about me, it was about the team. I know everyone says that, but it really was, and I have never felt calmer than when she blew that whistle.
“We had a job to do, we did the job and we took an opportunity that I would never have dreamed to be gifted.
“It’s incredible and my mum managed to change her flights home so she could stay and watch. That was really nice.”
When asked how she prepared for the unprecedented replay, Williamson’s reply was simple: “I went for a sleep.”
England went on to crash out of the Under-19 European Championship at the group stage, having failed to register a victory. Williamson, who plays in the Women’s Super League for Arsenal, has since earned 27 caps for the senior national team.
She was named captain of the Lionesses last week, and will lead her side out at a home European Championship this summer.