Football Features

The last England team to play in a senior European Championship final and what happened next

By Harry Edwards

Published: 9:55, 10 July 2021

For the first time in 55 years, England are in the final of a major international tournament. Well, the men’s team at least.

Gareth Southgate has the country united as England are set to go up against Italy in the Euro 2020 final, with fans dreaming of football finally coming home for the first time since 1966.

After semi-final heartbreak at the 1990 World Cup, Euro ’96 and 2018 World Cup (England also reached the semi-finals of the 1968 European Championships but the final tournament consisted of four teams), England can finally celebrate a showcase.

But for fans and followers of the Lionesses, the last final (also coming at the European Championships) was in Euro 2009 as England took on Germany. It was the second time England’s women had reached the showcase, losing in 1984 to Sweden on penalties.

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There would be no joy for England the second time around, as Hope Powell’s side were blown away by Germany 6-2. Although that is a tough scoreline to take, it’s worth remembering this was a Germany side that had been dominating world football, winning five consecutive major tournaments (not including the Olympics) with two World Cups and three European Championships between 2001 and 2009.

England’s side was full of household names in women’s football, and many are still involved in the game today, but who are they?

Goalkeeper: Rachel Brown

England caps: 82
Retired: 2015

Rachel Brown was England’s number one for the tournament, starting every game at Euro 2009 ahead of Karen Bardsley who would eventually replace her. At club level, Brown was Everton’s shot-stopper for 11 years and remained there until her retirement in 2015, helping them to win the Premier League Cup and FA Cup, beating Arsenal on both occasions. Brown is now seen frequently seen as a pundit on women’s football.

Right-back: Alex Scott

England caps: 140
Retired: 2018

One of the most recognisable names in England women’s football history, Alex Scott is practically everywhere now with punditry and presenting jobs, showing off the knowledge she learned during her 16-year senior career. A right-back, Scott was virtually irreplaceable for England and amassed 140 caps which currently has her fourth in the overall appearance standings.

Scott was also part of the Arsenal side which dominated England, winning six league titles, five League Cups, seven FA Cups and the Champions League. While still playing, Scott completed a degree in sports journalism and broadcasting, setting her up for her career post-retirement.

Centre-back: Faye White

England caps: 90
Retired: 2013

Captain of this England side, White was part of the Lionesses set up for 15 years from her debut aged 19 to retirement from international football in 2012. During the final, White could be easily recognised by her Zorro mask, worn to protect a fractured cheekbone suffered in the quarter-final win over Finland. At club level, White was Arsenal through and through, staying with the club for the entirety of her career, picking up just the 27 trophies (not including Community Shields) and a Player’s Player of the Year.

White can now sometimes be heard on commentary and seen doing punditry for a variety of outlets.

Centre-back: Anita Asante

England caps: 70
Current club: Aston Villa

One of two England players from the Euro 2009 final still playing, Anita Asante was a big part of the Lionesses in the mid-2000s and early 2010s, though only won 70 caps as she had to contend with the likes of White, Laura Bassett and the up-and-coming Steph Houghton. As well as England, Asante also represented Team GB at the 2012 Olympics, playing in all four matches.

After going on a winning spree with Arsenal, Asante represented the likes of Chelsea, Chicago Red Stars, Sky Blue FC, Goteborg and FC Rosengard before joining current club Aston Villa last summer, helping them remain in the Women’s Super League in their first season.

Left-back: Casey Stoney

England caps: 130
Retired: 2018

Another big name in this England squad, Stoney was one of the Lionesses’ best full-backs and formed an excellent partnership with Scott on the other flank. Known for her leadership, Stoney played all but one game for England at Euro 2009 while also being integral at the 2007 and 2011 World Cups, representing the Lionesses until 2017.

At club level, Stoney represented the likes of Arsenal, Charlton, Chelsea and Liverpool, and went straight from the pitch to the dugout, managing newly-formed Manchester United Women in 2018. Stoney spent three years with the club, getting them promoted to the WSL at the first time of asking and making them an established side before leaving amid reports of poor backing from the board.

Midfielder: Jill Scott

England caps: 151
Current club: Manchester City

The other player from England’s 13 used in the Euro 2009 final, Jill Scott is an evergreen midfielder who still commands a spot in the Lionesses’ squad today. Scott has been pretty much ever-present for England since her debut in 2006, being a key player under Powell, Mark Sampson and Phil Neville, with only injury keeping her away. It’s no surprise she’s the second-most capped player for England. The midfielder has also represented Team GB at the 2012 Olympics and will do so again in Tokyo.

In recent years, Scott has been synonymous with Manchester City, joining the club from Everton in 2013, and aiding their rise in the English game — though she did return to the Toffees on loan for the second half of the 2020/21 campaign.

Midfielder: Katie Chapman

England caps: 94
Retired: 2018

Although she wasn’t captain, Katie Chapman was one of many leaders this England side had when they got onto the pitch, and she was just as good at marshalling the midfield. Chapman was an ever-present for England at Euro 2009 and that would appear to be her final international tournament for the Lionesses with the team unable to accommodate her requirements as a mother of two. The midfielder returned for the 2015 World Cup but retired before hitting 100 caps.

Chapman is another to have represented both Arsenal and Chelsea, but she also played for the likes of Millwall, Fulham, Charlton and Chicago Red Stars.

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Midfielder: Karen Carney

England caps: 144
Retired: 2019

Karen Carney was the wide midfielder for England, linking up with Alex Scott to cause problems down the right with her excellent passing and crossing. Carney would remain a big part of the England team until her retirement in 2019 and played in the 2019 World Cup, with her final game for the Lionesses coming in their third-place play-off defeat to Sweden. Only Jill Scott and one other have more England caps than Carney, who also scored in the Euro 2009 final to make it 3-2 before Germany romped.

Coming through the academy at Birmingham, Carney went on to play for Arsenal, Chicago Red Stars and Chelsea, winning three league titles, five FA Cups, a League Cup and the Champions League. Carney is now seen on our TV screens as a pundit on men’s football, including the Europa League and Premier League.

Midfielder: Fara Williams

England caps: 172
Retired: 2021

That one other person to have more England caps than Carney is Fara Williams, who is the most-capped player in the nation. Williams is an icon in football, playing for England for 18 years having made her debut at the age of 17, providing an attacking threat for whoever picked her. The now-37-year-old went on to represent England at various other European Championships and World Cups, with her final appearance coming in 2019.

Williams spent a large part of her playing career at Everton, but also represented the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal before joining Reading in 2017. She retired at the end of the 2020/21 campaign.

Midfielder: Eniola Aluko

England caps: 102
Retired: 2019

Eniola Aluko played 102 times for England but it should have been more, with her international career coming to an abrupt end in 2016. The forward provided the danger from the wing at Euro 2009 but was also more than capable of forming a two-player strike force with her free movement. Aluko scored three goals for England at Euro 2009 and set up Kelly Smith in the semi-final win over the Netherlands. Her last appearance for England came in 2016 as manager Mark Sampson was eventually found to have made racist remarks to her and Drew Spence.

While playing, Aluko worked as a pundit and continues to do so post-retirement, having represented the likes of Chelsea, Birmingham City and Juventus at club level. Aluko recently spent a spell as director of women’s football at Aston Villa and is now sporting director of newly-formed National Women’s Super League side Angel City in Los Angeles.

Striker: Kelly Smith

England caps: 117
Retired: 2017

If you were to ask fans to name an England women’s player, those of a certain age would almost certainly be able to list Kelly Smith. The striker was one of the deadliest finishers in English women’s football during her career and is still the Lionesses’ all-time top scorer, netting 46 goals. One of those goals came in the Euro 2009 final, her third strike of the tournament. Smith would feature for England until announcing her international retirement in 2015, two years before calling time on her career as a whole, having won a host of honours at Arsenal.

Smith can now be found doing punditry and commentary.


Lianne Sanderson

England caps: 50
Retired: 2019

A late substitute for England, Lianne Sanderson was one of the younger players at Euro 2009, aged just 21 at the start of the tournament but she didn’t play for the Lionesses for too long, taking a break in 2010. Sanderson returned in 2014 under Mark Sampson and represented England at the 2015 World Cup.

Sanderson, still only 33, has not officially retired but has been without a club since 2019 when she left Juventus, having represented the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea, Espanyol and Orlando Pride across her career. She can be seen providing punditry and opinions on TV now, a respected voice in the game.

Emily Westwood

England caps: 32
Retired: 2018

Probably the least-recognised name of this team, through no fault of her own, Emily Westwood only played a few minutes in the Euro 2009 final. She would go on to make 32 appearances for England, with her last coming in 2010.

At club level, she represented three sides in Wolves, Everton and Birmingham City, remaining at the latter until her retirement in 2018.