Ella Toone: 'Champions League has always been the goal for Man United'

Ella Toone in action for England

Ella Toone has rapidly established herself as one of England’s most impressive young talents and is hoping to secure her spot on the roster for Euro 2022.

The Lionesses will host the tournament for the first time since 2005 and the Manchester United star is confident the team will make an impact.

But while winning the Euros on home soil would be an enormous achievement for England, Toone has stressed that inspiring and making the nation proud is just as important.

After joining a newly-formed Man United side in 2018, Toone has flourished from a rising starlet in the Championship, to a senior Lioness who won her first piece of silverware with her country earlier this year at the Arnold Clark Cup.

Toone spoke to GiveMeSport Women ahead of her visit to Bloomsbury Football Foundation, on behalf of her drinks partner Wow Hydrate. The sports drink have teamed up with the football club to provide bursary placements for young people so that they can play football. The donation has enabled 18 girls to get a placement at the grassroots football club. 

“I think I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t [hoping to make the Euros squad], those are the things you dream about and the things you want to achieve. 

“I just want to keep working hard and keep improving, keep playing consistently for club and doing everything I can for them to put me in the best position to be selected as part of the England team at the Euros.

“For us, it’s just about going there and enjoying ourselves and making each other and the nation proud. It’s all about growing the game as well and getting as many fans as we can into stadiums.”

England players pose for a team photo prior to the Arnold Clark Cup match between England and Canada at Riverside Stadium on February 17, 2022 in Middlesbrough, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Since Sarina Wiegman took on the role as Lionesses manager in September 2021, she has integrated younger players into the senior team and hasn’t been afraid to take risks with her setups. 

As a result of her experimental approach, players like Toone have been given the chance to prove themselves on the international stage. 

The United playmaker was one of the players who made their international debut under Wiegman and she has quickly established herself as a regular starter for England.

Since making her debut last February. Toone has scored an impressive 10 goals in just 13 senior appearances and is on a staggering upwards trajectory. 

“It means everything, to represent your country is the proudest thing you can ever do. Sarina has put her trust in me and given me an opportunity to play and to start.”

Domestic and international influence

Toone has enjoyed back-to-back impressive seasons with Man United, playing a huge part in the team’s mission to establish themselves as a top three side.

She rounded off the 2020/21 campaign with nine goals and five assists and has tallied six goals and eight assists this term. 

Toone has earned her international stripes thanks to her influential performances for United and she has stressed that the Red Devils are pushing to secure Champions League qualification for the first time.

Ella Toone of Manchester United Women celebrates her goal during the FA Women’s Continental Tyres League Cup match between Durham Women and Manchester United Women at Maiden Castle Sports Park on October 14, 2021 in Durham, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

“From the start of the season, that [qualifying for Champions League] was the goal that we set ourselves.

“The mood is really good in camp, I think we’re all excited for the last few games of the season and to hopefully secure a place [in the Champions League].

“I’m feeling really good and I’m looking forward to the next fixtures with United.”

Giving back to grassroots

It’s often easy to forget that even the most elite level players started off at grassroots level, working tirelessly to get themselves noticed.

For Toone, showing her gratitude to the opportunities grassroots football provided her and also inspiring young girls to keep pushing their potential is very important, and something she tries to do as often as she can.

Ella Toone visits Bloomsbury Football Foundation on behalf of her drinks partner Wow Hydrate. Credit: Sophia Vrahimi

“It’s massive for me to give back to grassroots,” she said. “Everyone started there once in their journey and I think now the game is growing, it’s really good that young players have people to look up to and idolise.

“I want to be the best role model I can be. So anything I can do to give back — visit the girls and get them involved in football — then I’ll do it and hopefully they enjoy the day and enjoy falling in love with the game. 

“I think it’s great — I always go into my local primary school and my old school and see the girls at dinner time playing football and it’s just great to see.

“It’s great to give girls an opportunity to be involved in football and to fall in love with it. The game is only going to grow more and we’re going to have even more young girls getting involved in sport.”

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