‘She was just natural’ – England’s Rachel Daly stood out in youth football
England left-back Rachel Daly’s ‘natural’ talent helped her stand out when she was still in primary school.
The 30-year-old will be aiming to help England win their first European league title when they face Germany in the Euro 2022 final at Wembley on Sunday.
Daly began his career at Killinghall Nomads in Yorkshire, where Rossett School teacher Michael Sweetman first saw his abilities for himself – although he didn’t immediately realize who he was looking at.
“I was in charge of the seventh year and I did all the transitions from primary schools, so I had to visit all the children in primary school,” Daly’s former teacher told the news agency. PA.
“I had heard there was this girl who was playing really well for Killinghall Nomads in Harrogate, so I came down to see her play. On Sunday morning, I swing in the fields and only the boys are playing.
“I said to myself, ‘I gave up my Sunday morning, I arrived and the girls are not playing’. Anyway, there is a boy with blond hair, a striker and he is brilliant. I think, ‘wow what a player he is, I’ll know at the end of the game if he comes to Rossett’.
“Anyway, in the meantime, Rach’s stepfather came over, he said, ‘hi Mr. Sweetman, don’t worry, she’s coming to Rossett’ and I went, ” nice to meet you, but i’ve been down and she’s not playing’.
“Anyway, she was classy, and that was my first introduction that she was playing with the lads on the lads team, she was one of the best players.”
Daly played junior football for Leeds before heading to the United States to play for college and was selected in the 2016 National Women’s Soccer League draft by the Houston Dash, where she has been playing ever since.
She was the NWSL’s third-highest scorer in 2021 with nine goals and Sweetman revealed her natural ability to play caught her eye immediately.
He said: “When you scout you are looking for technical ability, speed, stamina, can they handle the ball? Can they receive it? Can they use both feet?
“She was just a natural footballer, she wasn’t quick, she didn’t have incredible stamina, she was just great with the ball, she was just comfortable.
“She could use both feet, she understood the game, she knew when to dribble, when to pass, when to shoot, she just knew the game, she was just natural.”
He said: “I’m just sitting in front of her first England shirt, she gave me her first England shirt against Serbia so I have it in a frame.
“I’m just sitting next here and a pair of boots, I’m waiting for my daughter’s feet to grow a bit so she can use them – if I even dare to give them to her because I don’t like them becoming muddy!
Daly – a striker for her club – has been deployed at left-back for England and is set to feature in the final after starting every game in the competition so far.
“She’s been brilliant, she’s been outstanding,” Sweetman added.
“She has a great relationship with Leah Williamson and Millie Bright at the back, so they look very solid, she’s very comfortable on the ball, she doesn’t really get intimidated by anyone.
“She doesn’t get nervous, I think character-wise she’s perfect.”