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England footballer Ella Toone helped the Lionesses create history last night, after she scored the opening goal in England’s 2-1 victory over Germany in the Euro 2022 final.
The 22-year-old’s spectacular chip, which put England into the lead, will be remembered for years to come – on the day the Lionesses won their first major women's tournament in front of the biggest crowd in the history of a men's or women's Euros.
Toone, who scored three goals during the tournament, plays up front for Manchester United in the Women's Super League.
She made her senior international debut in February last year – the same year she represented Team GB at the Tokyo Olympics and scored a hat-trick for England in a 10-0 win over North Macedonia in a World Cup qualifier.
Ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, Toone posted the following picture of herself with fellow Olympian and female sporting icon Keely Hodgkinson:
— 𝗘𝗟𝗟𝗔 𝗧𝗢𝗢𝗡𝗘™ (@ELLATOONETEAM) July 21, 2021
It turns out, the pair went to Fred Longworth High School together in Tyldesley, Greater Manchester, where they became pals.
Their former PE, Simon Rigby, teacher told the Mirror they both ‘stood out a mile’ due to their impressive sporting abilities.
'For a comprehensive to produce one Olympic athlete is amazing but to produce two, two years apart, is unreal,' he said
‘They liked everything your average teenage girl liked to do, like going out with friends – but sport was kind of always the priority. They’re just really grounded, all-round great girls.’
Toone was the only girl on the boys’ football team at Fred Longworth High School, but Rigby says she would ‘turn her hand to any sport going’.
She still returns to the school in the off-season to play five-a-side with the teachers.
Fellow pupil World and Olympic 800m silver medallist Hodgkinson, meanwhile, was making her mark on the track – but she wasn't spotted straight away.
‘It’s quite funny because in my first year of school cross-country, I didn’t get picked,’ she told RW. ‘I should have been because I actually lapped people, but they thought I was at the back! I remember going home to my mum and saying, “Mum, I swear that I won that. I should be on that team.” But my mum isn’t really the type to go in and start shouting at the teachers, so I didn’t get picked.’
It wasn’t long before she rose to stardom. 'We’d take her to Wigan Schools competitions and she was better than everyone – streets ahead,’ her PE teacher told The Sun.
‘She was wiping the floor with runners an age group up. We did think she could possibly run in the Olympics, even at that age.’
In 2021, Toone posted a picture of the pair hugging each other in victory at a Wigan Schools Athletics competition, where Toone, who also took part in athletics, had run the 400m. She captioned the picture: 'Just 2 girls living their dreams! See you in Tokyo.'
The pair have come a long way since their early days at Fred Longworth High School – with Hodgkinson becoming a world silver medallist just last week and Toone now a European champion. And the best bit? They’re only just getting started.
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