Ellen White reveals "traumatic" incident that played huge role in her retirement

Ellen White

Ellen White has broken her silence on one of the main reasons why she decided to retire from professional football following England’s historic Euro 2022-winning summer.

Off the back of her emotional retirement statement, the Lionesses’ all-time top goalscorer has shed light on a “traumatic” incident that left her with a punctured lung last year.

White revealed the injury was a big factor in her decision to hang up her boots and look towards the next chapter in her career.

What happened?

The former Manchester City star suffered a lung injury after receiving acupuncture for a back spasm issue following the 2020 Olympics.

Acupuncture is a form of alternative medicine, derived from traditional Chinese practice, where thin needles are inserted into the skin. It is most often used in attempt to aid pain relief.

White helped Great Britain reach the quarter-finals at the Tokyo Games before returning to City, who arranged for an external specialist to perform the treatment.

The club reportedly outsourced the acupuncture specialist due to a high amount of injuries in the Man City camp at the time.

Speaking to BBC Sport, White revealed the treatment had punctured her lung, which was “a lot for me to have to go through and a big reason that accelerated my want to retire.”

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 12: Ellen White of Manchester City looks on during the Barclays FA Women’s Super League match between Manchester City Women and Tottenham Hotspur Women at The Academy Stadium on September 12, 2021 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

The 33-year-old admitted if someone had suggested two or three years ago that she would retire in 2022, she would not have believed it.

However, her injury hampered her fitness and it is something she is still trying to work out.

“It punctured my lung which isn’t something that happens normally, obviously,” White said. “It was a really traumatic time for me and something that I’m still figuring out now, still working through.”

The puncture left White unable to exercise due to being constantly short of breath.

She revealed she had a needle put into her chest to “drag all the air out” to help the lung inflate again.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 31: Ellen White of England celebrates after the 2-1 win during the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 final match between England and Germany at Wembley Stadium on July 31, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images)

White was able to return to the pitch and reach huge team and individual milestones, but she is still affected by the injury and admitted she feels a “phantom pain” as though it is still there.

“It’s important for me now to tell my story, and say it was a big factor in my year and leading up to the decision of wanting to retire. Obviously there are other factors that come into that as well. 

“I don’t want it to happen to anybody else again is my main thing. I don’t want to walk away from the sport having not told it and not say that I want things in place for it not to happen to anyone else.”


Ellen White’s legacy

White leaves behind a magnificent legacy on the football pitch and bows out following a history-making summer at Euro 2022.

In November 2021, the striker earned her 100th cap for England and followed up in the next match by becoming the Lionesses’ top goalscorer.

She surpassed Kelly Smith’s tally and came within two goals of beating Wayne Rooney’s all-time record of 53 goals scored for England. She hangs up her boots with 52 goals scored in 113 appearances for her country.

The evergreen White also boasts the second highest goal return in Women’s Super League history. With 61 goals in England’s top flight, she is behind only Vivianne Miedema, who leads the table with 74 goals for Arsenal.

Ellen White
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 31: Ellen White of England celebrates with the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 Trophy after their side’s victory during the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 final match between England and Germany at Wembley Stadium on July 31, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Harriet Lander/Getty Images)

On the international stage, White has represented England at three World Cups, including the bronze medal finish in 2015. She was also called up to Team GB for two Olympic Games. She was named England Women’s Player of the Year in 2011, 2018 and 2021.

During her domestic career, the 33-year-old played for Chelsea, Leeds, Arsenal, Notts County, and Birmingham before joining Man City in 2019.

Throughout her 17 years as a senior player, White won two Women’s Super League titles, four League Cups, and three FA Cups. She also won the 2017/18 WSL Golden Boot and holds the record for most goals scored by an England player at the Women’s World Cup, as well as being Team GB’s female all-time record goalscorer.

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