Ellen White hits 100 England caps and eyes Lionesses’ goalscoring record

It was a cold Thursday night at Loftus Road in March 2010 when Ellen White made her England debut. On as a substitute for Dunia Susi in the 62nd minute, the Aylesbury-born striker scored in stoppage time to seal a 3-0 win over Austria. 

Eleven years later, White, 32, is set for her 100th cap against the same opponents on Saturday afternoon and is now just two goals away from matching Kelly Smith’s all-time record of 46.

Her achievements are even more impressive given she has not always played as a central striker for England and battled back from two serious knee injuries earlier in her career.

Ellen White will win her 100th cap for England on Saturday afternoon against Austria

White's 'googles' celebration became a sensation at the 2019 Women's World Cup

White’s ‘googles’ celebration became a sensation at the 2019 Women’s World Cup 

Of the 44 goals White has scored, her best strike is the 22-yard lob against Japan in the 2011 World Cup. 

But it was eight years later, at the 2019 World Cup, where she cemented her place as one of the country’s best. 

Her six goals in six games saw her finish as joint top scorer alongside America’s Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan and her famous ‘goggles’ celebration, which was a nod to Cologne striker Anthony Modeste, saw her become a household name.

As White edges closer to becoming England’s all-time leading scorer, and ahead of her 100th cap, Sportsmail spoke to some of the people who know her best.

She finished the tournament as joint top scorer alongside Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan

She finished the tournament as joint top scorer alongside Megan Rapinoe and Alex Morgan

Phil Neville (England manager, 2018-2021)

‘Ellen is the best No 9 in world football, that’s what I need to say first and foremost. When I came into the England job, she had been shifted around in a few different positions. 

‘She works harder than anyone else and she just wanted to play. But we said to her: stay between the posts, try and become a killer like Ruud van Nistelrooy or Alan Shearer.

‘The way she took that on board speaks volumes about her. It’s probably the only time I ever needed to speak her because she just gets on with her work without any fuss. 

Former England manager Phil Neville believes White is the best striker in women's football

Former England manager Phil Neville believes White is the best striker in women’s football 

‘If there was a game in which I wasn’t going to play her, there was never any dramas. It was always “fine, no problem.” You knew she would be ready to go. You would tell her something once and that would be it.

‘Watch her in the games against the very best teams – she comes alive, as all the big game players do. In the World Cup, she was absolutely brilliant.

‘Ellen doesn’t like all the razzamatazz, there are no frills about her life. She does her job simply, she lives her life simply; her finishing is simple, she plays the game in a simple way.

‘But I would say, without question, she is in the top five of the players who I have managed in both codes. She easily gets in there. I’m absolutely delighted for her, she deserves every tribute that comes her way.’

White was part of the Lionesses team that reached the 2019 Women's World Cup semifinal

White was part of the Lionesses team that reached the 2019 Women’s World Cup semifinal

Rick Passmoor (Manager Leeds Carnegie 2007-2010, Notts County Ladies 2013-2017)

When White made her international debut in 2010, her manager at Leeds Carnegie, Rick Passmoor, predicted she would go on to be England’s first-choice striker for years to come – he was not wrong.

‘My thoughts were, with the old guard now changing under Hope (Powell) – the likes of Kelly Smith, Rachel Yankey, who were now just coming to the latter age but not yet finished, I could see that probably for the next decade that she would be the next No 9 for England for many years to come and she’s proven to be.’

Passmoor has helped develop the likes of Kalvin Phillips, Danny Rose and Fabian Delph but says he is especially proud to have worked with the Lionesses’ striker.

‘Everyone that has worked with her, from the coaches to her team-mates, will have immense pride and sometimes you get a little lump in your throat.

When White made her England debut in 2010, her former manager Rick Passmoor predicted she would become the Lionesses' main striker for years to come

When White made her England debut in 2010, her former manager Rick Passmoor predicted she would become the Lionesses’ main striker for years to come

‘I’m not surprised that she’s near this milestone, she richly deserves it. You won’t meet a more humble person off the pitch. She has no edge. She’s been greatly supported by her husband and her family. 

‘But when she puts her football kit on, you’ve got an elite athlete that you’re working with – physically, mentally and socially. It’s been a pleasure to watch her grow and develop in the last 14 years that I’ve known her.

‘For a coach that works with high performance and elite athletes, now and again you come across these players and you as a coach should be humbled by it, it’s a privilege.’

Hope Powell (England manager 1998-2013)

‘I remember giving Ellen her debut back in 2010 and it says so much about her ability and character that 11 years later she is still giving so much to her country on and off the pitch.

‘To reach 100 caps is an amazing achievement and she deserves so much credit for being at the top of the game for so long and maintaining consistently high standards in everything she does.

‘Wouldn’t it be fantastic if she broke the goalscoring record whilst making her 100th England appearance? Knowing Ellen, I wouldn’t be surprised if she did just that!’

White has won 99 England caps since making her Lionesses debut 11 years ago

White has won 99 England caps since making her Lionesses debut 11 years ago

Jill Scott (England & Manchester City)

‘When we both entered the England team we had an automatic connection because I think we both knew we were in there because we were going to work hard and run a lot. 

‘But then Ellen quickly established herself to be a fantastic goalscorer. She’s one of those forwards who loves pressing, loves winning the ball back, she’ll give 100 percent for the team. But also if you look at her goalscoring record, it’s so impressive.

‘I always say when I do coaching, “if you want a role model, pick Ellen.” 

Jill Scott (left) has described White as a 'fantastic goalscorer' and a 'role model'

Jill Scott (left) has described White as a ‘fantastic goalscorer’ and a ‘role model’

‘Over the years she’s suffered from injuries and stuff like that but she’s always bounced back. It’s no secret that the reason she’s always come back is because of the work she’s put in in the gym.

‘She doesn’t get the credit she deserves. If you look at her record in the 2019 World Cup it was so impressive.

‘Whenever the ball falls to her, she knows where the net is. I see her analysing goalkeepers, analysing oppositions on the computer – that’s why she’s one of the best goalscorers out there. 

‘We probably do rely on her, but when it comes to big occasions and tournaments, she thrives on them.’

Scott said her and White had 'an automatic connection' from when they joined up at England

Scott said her and White had ‘an automatic connection’ from when they joined up at England

Jon White (Ellen’s father)

‘I’ve always hoped that she would be able to make it, I knew what she was capable of, she was always dedicated and she worked hard.

‘We’re amazingly proud that she’s reached this point. I feel that she deserves every bit of recognition that she’s getting now.

‘Myself and my wife and the family have followed her around the world, we’ve been to every tournament other than the Olympics this year. We’ve seen her score most of her goals, we’re just extremely proud.

‘Ellen comes to life in the big tournaments against the big teams. She scores important goals. 

The Man City forward also starred at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics scoring six goals for Team GB

The Man City forward also starred at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics scoring six goals for Team GB

‘There’s a massive difference in playing club football and being on the big stage for England and not everybody can do it. She works hard, trains hard, is very much a team player. Off the pitch she’s very humble and doesn’t like all the limelight.

‘There have been certain managers who have been very influential in Ellen’s career. Rick was one of those who helped move her towards getting that first cap and Hope Powell, who gave her that first cap.

‘It’s not just about her it’s about the players who have helped her score the goals too but it would be a massive achievement. Kelly Smith is an iconic player and is still one of the best players that’s ever been around. 

‘For her (Ellen) to get to where she is and maybe go past her goal record would be absolutely amazing. It would be a dream come true for her family.’

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